A Russian-American's Guide To A Great New Year's

A Russian-American's Guide To A Great New Year's

As a Russian American Jew, I have quite a few traditions in my family for New Year's. Regardless of superstition, here are some nice traditions to adopt before the clock strikes twelve.


I come from a family of Russian-Jewish immigrants, and no day means more to Russians than New Year's. Christmas in Russia is celebrated based on the Julian rather than Gregorian calendar, so on January 7th. New Year's holds much greater significance, which is pretty great for me as a Jew. Russians adopt many of the traditions generally associated with Christmas on New Year's instead, such as decorating a tree, exchanging gifts, and awaiting the arrival of Ded Moroz, our version of Santa, and his granddaughter Snegurochka. My Russian family also taught me to be incredibly superstitious in regards to welcoming the new year. There are a few traditions I've picked up on my own to welcome the new year, but this list especially represents the customs and traditions my culture has taught me.

Clean out any old clothes


Hey, guess what... you have too many clothes. I mean probably, I haven't seen your closet. You know it's time to clean out your wardrobe, but you've never had the motivation to do so. Well, New Year's is the perfect time to finally dig through your collection of sweaters and old jeans and get rid of all that junk you haven't worn in five years. It's not worth the closet space, and it will go to much better use donated to the cold and in need than it will sitting in a random drawer. Do yourself a favor and finally clean out all those things you don't need. Clutter is the worst, and I promise you won't regret getting rid of it.

Vacuum, dust, mop, and generally clean all surfaces


Russians have a couple important New Year's traditions, one of them being a thorough cleaning of the house. We like to think that the way you go into the year will be reflected in the year itself, and you don't really want to have a messy, disgusting year, do you? Throw out your old papers, sort through whatever junk you've got, and then get out that Swiffer duster. Even if you can't see it, bacteria is everywhere, and you don't want it around when the new year hits.

Take a shower


Yes your surroundings should be clean, but so should you! Staying clean is important, and it's especially necessary on New Year's Eve. Besides, if you're going to a party or something, you should aim to look your best as is, and nothing is as attractive as a clean person. Just make sure you use soap. Please.

Make a list of resolutions


New Year's resolutions are more of an American thing, but I honestly think they're a spectacular idea. They don't have to be huge, and they don't have to be unattainable either. Genuinely think about a few things that might improve your life, and focus on active ways you can achieve them. Is your goal to be healthier? Consider how you'd go about doing so. Sometimes, big resolutions don't work. Start small. Maybe you're going to call your parents more than once a week, or maybe you wan't to start making your bed every morning. Start small and work your way up.

Settle old grudges and debts


Russians consider it important to settle any monetary debts before New Year's, but this goes much deeper. In Jewish tradition, we apologize to anyone we may have hurt before Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. This piece of the Jewish faith accompanies our own lunar calendar based new year. Now, even if you don't believe that God will judge you when the clock strikes twelve, it's still a good idea to make peace with the people you've argued with this year and come to some sort of understanding with those you've wronged. It'll leave you with a clear conscience in the new year.

Wear something new... for superstition's sake


Another Russian superstition is to wear something new... for the new year. Not all of us have tons of money to spend, but if you can, maybe treat yourself this once. It's nice to start the year fresh, and if you haven't got a new outfit, then you can at least wear clean clothes and semi follow the tradition.

Make plans with friends or family


Much like any holiday, I recommend you spend New Year's with the people you love. Like I said before, the way you spend New Year's will reflect the rest of the year, and what's better than a year filled with friends and family?

However you spend New Year's, just make sure it's as special as the year you hope to have. Happy holidays!

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Somehow, I Ended Up With The Best Roommate Known To Man

I've truly been blessed.


College can be a very stressful experience to prepare for. From orientation to selecting your classes for the semester, your responsibilities quickly pile up. On top of all that, you also have to find somebody who you will be sharing a room with for your first year of college.

After not sharing a room with my sister for several years, I was worried about going back to splitting a living space with someone else. Immediately after I finished submitting my application to finalize my commitment to Temple, the stress of finding a roommate sunk in. Rooms in the residential hall I wanted were filling up quickly, and I still didn't have a roommate.

I was trying to find a roommate, but everybody seemed to already have their living situation figured out. However, one day, I received a message from a girl named Tori. Little did I know, she would become my best friend. I saw her profile prior to on RoomSync, an app for finding roommates, so I was really excited when she messaged me.

We didn't meet until move-in day, which made me a little bit anxious, but right from the start, everything clicked. We have lots of similar interests and living standards. Even though our majors are totally different, hers being biology and mine is English, that didn't stop us from being friends and enjoy spending time with one another.

In just the first weekend, Tori discovered that I hadn't seen a lot of movies that I should have seen growing up. From that point on, she created a list of various movies, and every weekend we watched at least one movie together. I don't think she has shown me a movie that I haven't liked yet, and I'm so glad that we started this tradition.

On top of movies, Tori has also expanded my music taste, which is a very hard thing to do. I couldn't be happier that she introduced me to Dean Lewis and Noah Kahan and then persuaded me to go to their concert in October with her. In general, she has got me more into music and is increasing my knowledge about music overall.

As well as going to a concert together, we also recently went to see my favorite Youtubers when they came to Philly. When we found out that Cody Ko and Noel Miller were going on a comedy tour and coming to our city, we immediately planned to buy tickets. It was a night full of laughs, and I'm so happy I got to spend it with her.

Tori Ploesch

Having a random roommate who is also your best friend is rare. I've heard a lot of horror stories about random roommates, but I honestly can't picture not being friends with Tori. Along with being an amazing roommate, she is incredibly selfless and caring. Her focus is always on helping people, and I admire her for all the hard work she puts into everything she does.

Being surrounded by people in the College of Science and Technology, I know it isn't easy. Because I have a strong dislike of science, I give major props to Tori and her friends in CST. I'm so happy she is studying something she's truly passionate about and will love doing in her future career. Whenever I meet people that want to pursue a career in science or the medical field, I immediately give them immense credit. It's extremely difficult to take that career path, and I'm already excited for Tori and her ultimate success.

College is a time for making new friends that will last even after you stop going to school together. Even though I'm only in my second semester, I know I can trust Tori with anything, and she'll be there for me when I need her. I also know that she'll be 100% honest with me when I need guidance or advice.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Tori for messaging me to room with her. My college experience has been incredibly positive thus far because she has been with me through it all. I'm extremely grateful for the way things worked out because I couldn't have asked for a kinder roomie.

Thank you, Tori, for not just being an incredible person and roommate, but my best friend as well.

P.S. I can't wait to bake with you in our apartment together next semester!

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.


In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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