When it comes to the end of a school year, every student has mixed thoughts. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are just downright stressed. This is an example of my thoughts over the course of a few days.
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"I locked the door, shaved my face, made myself comfortable on the toilet seat and shot a little dope."
I've always been an easy person to talk to. It's not that I have a cheery face. I only smile when I'm genuinely happy. But for some reason people just come to me.
It's not a rare occasion when a stranger approaches me and tells me about their life, but there was one man I met who I will never forget.
I had just finished my last class and was hurrying to the train station to catch the 12:25. I sat down on the bench, put my headphones in, and zoned out. It was hot outside and the smell of garbage nauseated me, but there wasn't a trash can in sight.
I heard a thick Boston accent, "Hey hun, do you have a ticket?"
I spun around and ripped my headphones out of my ears. I was shocked to see a man behind me.
"I uhh," I paused. "Yeah, why?" I asked startled.
"I don't have any money and I need to go to Jefferson Station. They wouldn't let me on the El because I was fifty five cents short."
He was filthy, wearing cut-off jeans, a tank top that said "California" and a pair of brown Vans that were once white. His eye lids fluttered and he sat down next to me on the bench.
"Sorry," I lied. "I don't have any money."
I looked at his arms, covered in track marks and I wanted to cry.
"It's okay. Where I'm from I never pay to get on public transportation," he said casually with his face in his dirty palms.
"And where are you from?" I asked.
"Boston," he answered. "I didn't pay to get here though."
I looked at him, confused.
He took his face out of his palms and gazed at me with empty eyes,
"I got in line for the Amtrak, pushed past people and said I had to use the bathroom. I located the bathroom in the last car and locked the door, shaved my face, made myself comfortable on the toilet seat and shot a little dope."
"I'm sorry," I said with a blank expression.
"I am too. I wish I never started."
I wanted to cry but I nodded instead.
"What about rehab?" I asked stupidly.
"I want to go," he nodded. "I do, but I can't."
"May I ask why you're here?" I corrected myself. "Like, in Philly."
The train arrived and he stood up.
"It's a goldmine for heroin."
I sat down and looked over my shoulder. I knew he wanted to sit with me but he chose not to.
I showed the attendant my trail-pass and he moved on to the man behind me.
"I already showed you my ticket three stops ago," he lied.
The attendant shook his head: "Yo, don't lie to me man. You need to pay."
"Why do I have to show you twice?" He continued to lie so effortlessly.
The attendant pulled out a walkie-talkie and explained the situation.
The man paced the aisles of the train asking everyone for money or a ticket.
Jefferson Station was next. The train stopped and the man said, "I don't want to get arrested, can someone help me?"
He got off the train and there was someone in a Septa uniform waiting for him. I gave him one last look and turned my head and felt tears rolling down my face.
All I could ask myself was, "Why?" Why did this man feel such pain that he had to jab a needle in to his arm just to feel alive?
I knew he lied and stole, but that wasn't him. It was his addiction. As much as I wanted to pay for his train ticket and get him out of trouble, I knew I couldn't.
I couldn't give this man the required fare so that he could walk away and get his fix. I couldn't live with myself knowing that he could so easily lock the bathroom door, shoot up too much. and die alone.
Although this man will not remember me, I will remember him. He is not a junkie or a low-life, because there is no such thing. An addict is an addict, and addiction is a disease. I won't judge someone for having a disease, this man is someone's son, best friend, etc... he is more than his addiction.
You don't just have to watch Netflix all day.
With finals week upon us, it's hard not to think about summer break. With 3 months to sleep in, watch Netflix, and finally get a tan, things can get pretty boring. If you aren't spending your summer abroad, or partying it up at the shore, don't worry, you're just like the rest of us. Here are 7 things to make your summer break a little less boring.
1. Go for a day trip.
Whether you live near a beach, a major city, or in the middle of nowhere, finally make a trip to that one place you have been dying to go to, but never had the time to visit.
2. Go for a hike.
If you're feeling active and adventurous, grab one of your friends and go on a hike! Who doesn't love some good cardio with a view?
3. Go shopping.
Because who doesn't want cute summer clothes??
4. Go to a music festival or a concert.
Summer is the best time for outdoor concerts and music festivals. Find out what artists are performing near you and have a fun night out with your friends.
Brunch is the perfect meal because if you sleep until noon, you can still have time for some brunching. Find a cute restaurant and get youself some bomb avocado toast.
6. Visit your college friends.
After being home for 2 weeks, you're going to be having some serious separation anxiety from your college friends. Plan to visit them in their hometown and spend some quality time with your college BFF.
7. Road trip!
Going on a road trip is probably one of the most basic summer plans in the book, but it can be a lot of fun. As long as you have someone on aux, snacks, and a group of friends who won't kill each other after spending hours in a car it's a great way to make summer memories!
Dogs are more than just man's best friend, and with that their lives deserve a place just as beautiful as heaven.
"Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."- Mark Twain
Dogs are honestly the happiest creatures on this planet. No matter how bad their day was at the vet, how cold it is outside, or how dirty their water source is they never complain and they never seem to be anything less than happy. They love us unconditionally, through every flaw, every mood swing, and every bad day we go through. Dogs are always there to listen to us, no matter the subject, and although it may be because they have no clue what we are talking about, they still don’t change their mood, never wavering from their happy state of mind.
Only when they become sick, hurt, or abandoned do dogs begin to show that they can’t always be their happy selves, yet somehow they still seem to have brightness in their eyes. When they grow old, they still find ways to stumble to their human counterparts, always looking to receive the same compassion and love that they have given us. From puppies learning how to eat proper food, to the senior dogs who would rather lie down by a warm fireplace than go on a long walk, they are always there as our companions.
Dogs are honestly one of the most versatile animals that the human race has been blessed with. From K-9 units, rescuers, therapy workers, senior home companions, wartime heroes, and best friends, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and responsibilities. They have been with us for centuries, working by our sides since their domestication and continue to be more than just man's best friend.
Dogs all go to heaven because they do more for us than we do for us. They could care less about the quality of food that they eat, yet care more about the mood we are in. No matter the breed, the love and affection rarely wavers, and they rarely care who you are. Dogs never complain about the life they are given, and although they have no voice in this human run world, they still manage to show us how much they love their lives and the people they are surrounded with.
Because being happy is fun.
Need a little more happiness in your life? Here are five things you can do right now to instantly make yourself happier.
1. Go outside.
You might not even realize it, but many of us spend most, if not all, of our days locked indoors. It’s amazing what a little fresh air and beautiful scenery can do for the mind and our mood. In fact, science can actually prove that fresh air increases your energy and boosts happiness. Research shows that the scent of pine, grass and numerous flower species can decrease stress and instantly up your mood. So take your five-minute coffee break outside on the patio, find a bench or opt for a scenic hike. Just go outside and take advantage of our world's natural beauties.
Stop and smell the roses – literally.
2. Go eat something unhealthy.
Fact: It’s impossible to be unhappy while eating In-N-Out. OK, maybe there’s no scientific evidence to back that fact up, but eating your favorite unhealthy food should instantly provoke a smile. Indulge. Eat that Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream, Chipotle Burrito and slice of pizza all in one night, and don’t you dare think twice about it. This is a quick, effective and delicious way to up your mood.
PS: Calories don’t count when you’re not happy. They just don’t.
3. Go pet a pet.
Do you realize that a dog’s main purpose in life is to be human pleasers? Pets rule! They practically die of happiness every time you come through a door, even if you just left for five short minutes. Pets don’t have bad days; they don’t get upset over difficult people or offended by something someone said. Instead, they are here on Earth alongside us humans, minding their own business, providing us with constant companionship and unconditional love. Go see a friend's pet, go to a shelter or hey, even better, adopt your own. I guarantee pets are a promising solution to boosting your happiness.
Just not a ferret. I don't trust those things.
4. Go on a drive and blast music.
I don’t know what is so empowering about being on an open road with some good tunes, but it certainly is. Your brain literally lights up with endorphins when you play your favorite music. So go ahead, scream "Sorry" by Justin Bieber at the top of your lungs, dance your heart out and see how you feel. I dare you.
And don’t worry about the people stupendously staring at you with awe at a red light. Embrace it, own it.
5. Go to sleep.
If all else fails, call it a day and avoid your emotions with some good, old fashioned sleep. Sometimes, our mood can truly only be mended by some needed ZZZ’s and a good night's rest. We all know sleep is important for allowing our bodies to recover from the day's work, but it also has an impact on our happiness level. Studies have shown sleep-deprived people have a hard time recalling pleasant memories but recall unsettling memories just fine. Another study showed less sleep increases sensitivity to negative emotions. So, maybe all you really need is some well-deserved sleep.
Go ahead. Sleep. Right now! I don’t care if its 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Sleep it off and wake up with a positive attitude.
What are you waiting for? Get happy!
Some things you will miss come December.
As August comes to an end, fall approaches quickly with Halloween candy and decorations creeping onto the shelves of drugstores just a little too early. It all happens too fast. Here's a reflection of all the things we are desperately holding onto as our summer comes to a close and classes begin:
1. That tan you worked so hard for.
That tan you started working on even before spring break will soon fade away as the UV index drops and the sun begins to set before that 8 o'clock sunset time you became used to all summer.
2. The comfort of throwing on athletic shorts and t-shirts.
How many times did you opt to wear those Nike shorts and t-shirts out and about? Those warm days that let you do that won't last for long.
3. Having all the time in the world to work and make money.
As the semester begins, your paychecks either will completely disappear or your work hours dwindle away as you now try to juggle classes, commitment to organizations, and social life into your busy schedule. Now it's time to be thrifty.
Those adventures out-of-town, out-of-state, out-of-country, etc. You were packing up and getting away just when your work week got to be too much.
5. Beach access.
90 degree days at the beach relaxing and watching dogs play in the water. Kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, fishing all the water activities you can think of.
6. Late-night drives with your friends from home.
You spent your summer finally catching up with your hometown friends and then soon enough you're parting ways once again. You promise to keep in touch better this school year.
7. Home-cooked meals.
There's nothing like being home and having your favorite home-cooked meals almost every night after you have consumed a less than desirable amount of meals from your school's dining hall.
Although we are forced to give up these luxuries that my favorite season grants us, fall will have its own treasures. Reflect back on your summer and be grateful for those memories in your time of excitement for this new school year to begin!
1. Brittany Morgan,National Writer's Society
2. Radhi,SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign