Poetry On Odyssey: A Day In The City

Poetry On Odyssey: A Day In The City

Life in a city can never be boring.

City life can be exciting and eye-opening, especially if you pay attention to the little things going on around you. I love going to the city whenever I can because everyone seems to have their own purpose. It is a place where you see hundreds of lives overlap, each with its own twist!

I run across the crosswalk.

Hair gets caught between my lips

Teeth shining bright I look up

Reflections sparkle up the buildings.

I see the clouds white as pearls

Posters of models and top brands surround me

Beep. Beep. Beeeeep!

“Oh, come on move it!”


I forgot where I was supposed to go…

Ah, never mind I remember.

Swerve left, swerve right.

Phew, that was close!

How haven’t I knocked into someone yet?

I turn the corner and hit the double doors.

Whoosh! The smell of coffee hits my nose

I don’t think twice.

“One Choco-chip double swirled latte please”

Tick, tock.

Shoot! I’ll be late.

The cold breeze hits my face as I enter the bustling street again

I wrap my scarf tighter around my neck.

A child is trying to keep up with its mom.

I wonder where they're going.

A painter is selling paintings of the skyline.

Shouldn't this be up in a museum somewhere?

It's so mesmerizing.

The bustling signs of life keep my spirits soaring high.

Finally, I'm not alone.

I keep moving towards my destination,

looking at the street signs.

Everyone is in their own world.

It's like watching a movie.

Everyone has a purpose and a place to reach.

Even me...

I smile.

I pull the handle and a warm gust of air greets me.

I look back to say bye to the continuous commotion and city-walkers

Alas, I've reached my place.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.


Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

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7 Reasons why what I wear as a woman Shouldn't, And Doesn't, affect you

OH NO, do I see an exposed shoulder?


Recently I came across a few articles about how women should change what they wear to the beach, or change what they wear in general. Telling someone what to wear doesn't only cause anger or frustration, but it causes insecurities and these people start to question a style that makes them unique in a world where "mainstream is apparently the way to go."

1. Your opinion is NOT my opinion

Are my shorts too short? Is my tank top too tight? Should I not be wearing yoga pants? Do my clothes not match? Tough. All of that is your opinion and I'm not going to change for you just because of what you think is right and wrong. Also, why are you wasting thoughts on something that doesn't truly affect you? My style doesn't cost you money, it doesn't affect your day unless you let it, which is a poor waste of time in my opinion.

2. People of all sizes should be able to wear what they want without being criticized

Just because you're considered 'skinny', you're allowed to wear whatever you want without people criticizing you. It's because in this day and age we have set standards that tell you if you need to lose or gain weight. They tell you if you're perfect or below average. It's not just people who are doing this - it's movies, tv shows, radio stations, news sources, and yes, even the president. Sometimes it's conditioning that makes people the way they are, sometimes they're just naturally judgmental.


A lot of schools have an issue with this specifically. Girls can't wear spaghetti straps because apparently, their 'skin is distracting to boys' like one article I read says. Click anywhere in this sentence to be sent to the article, and hopefully feel as outraged as I am. The whole saying of "boys will be boys" is such a dangerous saying because it makes certain males feel like they can do what they want and not be punished for it. Other than schools, this also happens at the beach. Girls are criticized for wearing 'cheeky' bottoms, or bikinis if they're not 'skinny enough' to wear them. If it's blazing hot out, or even if it's just a little warm, let anyone and everyone where what they want.

4. Some people aren't comfortable with their figure

While some woman are judged for wearing too little, they're all judged for wearing too much or clothing that's considered too baggy. Maybe someone wears a sweater during a warm day, or they wear sweatpants to school or some other article that is deemed 'strange' to wear during the day because the weather doesn't match. Honestly, how do we win when it's impossible to make everyone happy?

5. Some things aren't affordable

There are some people out there who can't even afford to buy new clothes. Maybe they only have a few pairs of shorts from over the years that they can wear, that they might have grown slightly out of. Or the only thing they really have to work with are hand-me-downs because their parents can't buy that many new things. Sometimes it's impossible to guess why someone does something, and you can't even begin to understand what the reason is.

6. Does a bra strap or skin really offend you that much??

Like in the article of my third reason, bra straps are apparently very offending. I never understood why considering nearly all woman wear bras and it's a common understand you have one underneath your clothing. Sometimes they're shown because it's part of your outfit, sometimes girls just don't care to cover them. Honestly, people, I think it's about time to get over the ominous bra straps. Ooo scaryyyy!

7. If it makes them feel cute, let them feel cute!

In a world like the one we live in, people are medically depressed, stressed, confused, scared, hurt, and many other words I can describe people. If someone is wearing something you don't deem acceptable, just keep those thoughts to yourself. I don't think it's that hard to hold your tongue when a stranger walks by. Maybe their outfit made them feel good today when they haven't in a while. You never really know what's going on in their life. Most people don't need to feel worse, but maybe that's just my opinion.

I know that in my list above, I focus mostly on women but I'm well aware people of all genders go through this even if they don't necessarily go by male or female. Growing up, most people are conditioned to think that one way is better than the other, but it's simply not true and you can easily break out of the habit of thinking that way. Next time you see something you don't like, keep your mouth shut and you'll come to realize it's not worth it to care if someone looks different than you.

Cover Image Credit:

Daniel Apodaca

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