I tried to do Plastic Free July

Earlier last month I learned that it was Plastic Free July.

“Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it.”

Growing up in Vancouver, sustainability has always been an important lens through which I see everyday life so I thought that it was an excellent challenge. The more I did research and reflected, the more I learned and became conscious of my usage of single-use plastic and how often I might have sent these on a one-way trip to the landfill. (Yikes!) I will spare you the sad photos of plastic hurting baby marine life. Browse the PFJ website to learn more about the impact of single-use plastic and for neat tricks to find alternatives.

I signed up for the challenge and learned how hard it was to avoid single-use plastic.

Here are a few examples:

  • Plastic packaging from buying anything!!! (Like sponges, paper towel, dried food, etc.)
  • Buying beverages to-go (plastic cup, lid, AND straw that go in the rubbish bin right after you’re done)
  • Garbage bags (It’s really weird how we buy fresh bags to then chuck down the shoot? The PFJ folks suggested lining your trash can with newspaper instead)
  • Plastic bags (I tried to always have a bag big enough to hold extra things in case I picked up something, or if I could just hold it in my arms, I did!)
  • FOOD, pretty much everything food comes in plastic. Cereal, meat, milk, etc.

Solutions I learned were to bring your own reusable container with you, ask for no straw at a restaurant (which I often forgot to), keep a reusable bag handy, and to buy things in bulk. And for fellow Starbucks fans, did you know it’s actually possible to bring in a mason jar and you save 10 cents?

While I was disappointed that I could not entirely avoid single-use plastic (and I learned just how hard it was), I was happy that participating in the challenge made me more aware of how often I used single-use plastic. Before, I did not understand the extent to which my Starbucks frappucino cup or the thin plastic to-go container my Chinese food came in would have an environmental impact. Think about it, what is the impact of our lifestyle based off of convenience?

Most importantly, from now on I will continue to do my best to avoid single-use disposable plastic products (you also save money by reducing, re-using, and packing your own food/drinks!). And of course recycle!

Otherwise, the recycling monster will get you.

Do you try to avoid single-use plastic? If you have any tips to share, please do!

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Engineers Without Borders: Design4Change

(I’m writing this at 2am so the post is rough. But the tweets back me up at least? 😛 )

On Saturday, March 19th, I participated in Engineers Without Borders’s Design4Change competition. I was very excited to be introduced into the world of engineering students and dip my toes into the field. So on that Saturday, I spent a day learning about human-centred design and then applying this idea as I developed a community-focused solution with my team.

Excited to be at Engineers Without Borders’s Design4Change competition today! 🔗🚩🔩🔋🚦🚧

A photo posted by Diyyinah (@diyyinah) on Mar 19, 2016 at 7:54am PDT

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Human-centred design is based on three overlapping principles: desirability, feasibility, and viability. What do people want? How can this idea work? Will it be successful? This happens through five steps:

  1. Empathy
    Learning about whom you are designing
  2. Define
    Using what you learned from your empathy stage to refocus and redefine
  3. Ideate
    Brainstorming and coming up with creative solutions
  4. Prototype
    Building a first model to show your client
  5. Test
    Bringing the working model to the client to get feedback

And so following the talk on human-centred design, we heard from Travis of the Ottawa Healthy Transportation Commission via Skype who told us about the work they are doing to better the Bayshore neighbourhood. He explained their consultations sessions and the current situation for residents trying to get around their area, including crossing major streets.

For our challenge, we had to design pop-up crossovers. This means that we had to create a temporary, safe, and functional crosswalk that was easy to install and could be placed anywhere. In our scenario, it was to be able to span a 4-lane highway.

Following introductory presentations and lunch, teams got to work on brainstorming and making their ideas come to life.

(Will be writing a bit more about the process at a future time!!!)

There was a very strong time crunch, and 3pm came faster than we knew it. It was time to present our ideas in front of our peers and the Bayshore resident judges. There were five teams in total and mine was last to present.

Of course, I thought my team had an awesome idea and a great presentation as well. Feel free to take a peek! We started off the presentation with a joke.

So basically, I, a political science and communication student, joined an engineering competition and my team ended up winning. 😀 Did I actually contribute you ask? Heck yeah! I helped come up with the idea, designed the presentation, developed the storyline, and also delivered the presentation. Key element to winning the judges over right hurr. 😉

FIRST PLACE AT ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS DESIGN4CHANGE COMPETITION!!! 😁😱🔗💻🔩🔧

A photo posted by Diyyinah (@diyyinah) on Mar 19, 2016 at 1:48pm PDT

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Would I do it again? Absolutely! I had so much fun.

 

Thank you Engineers Without Borders uOttawa for making your events open to all students. ;D

Goodbye 2015!

226976-goodbye-2015-and-welcome-2016

I just can’t believe it’s the end of the year already! 2015 was certainly an eventful year. This year I:

  • Got on Dean’s List because I got awesome grades (9.3 AGPA)
  • Had an awesome little mini music studio
  • Walked my favourite chihuahua
  • Moved out of my first condo (independence yo)
  • Said goodbye to my boyfriend for 8 months, and still stayed together and in love despite he distance
  • Celebrated two years with my boyfriend
  • Landed my dream summer job of working in science communication at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics research, as the outreach & tours assistant
  • Was selected by Fulbright Canada out of my university to be one of the Canadians to go on exchange in the USA on a Killam Fellowship
  • Spent an amazing semester at UMaine
  • Got awesome grades in my Environmental Communication and American politics classes (3.9 GPA)
  • Was initiated into Delta Zeta sorority and loved everything my sisters brought into my life
  • Played field hockey as uOttawa’s club president and UMaine’s visiting player
  • Made so many new friends and re-connected with old ones
  • Traveled to Las Vegas in the summer and over winter break
  • Explored New York City/Manhattan for a week and checked off my bucket list
  • Visited Boston, Massachussets, Rhode Island, and explored Maine’s coast
  • Got tons of interviews and got offered 7 jobs
  • Had a wonderful time with life and just tried to spread as much love as I could

2015 was awesome. I’m sure I’ve left some things out but I’m sure it’s going to be an even more awesome year up ahead!

thank you Lord for all the blessings this year ❤

#diyytermined: December

I used to do monthly roundups if any of you remember my “Goodbye November, Hello December!” posts that I used to actively write. This time around, I have decided to take it up a notch by logging every single day that I am possibly able to, for myself to have a journal entry and memory of what I did each day, and I guess for any curious person who wonders how exactly it works that I do lots of things and lack sleep. I apologize in advance for the dry accounts of my day. And in the spirit of being me, it is 2am so without further ado, here are my days recorded:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Okay so this isn’t part of december, but if you look at the calendar week, it could kind of count. So  Monday I got home from the Bangor airport at around 12:30am. I had just flown in from my American Thanksgiving trip to New York City, and my angel of a Delta Zeta sorority sister Kayla picked me up from the airport and drove me back to my dorm. I took the chance to sleep in until 9:30am since I don’t have class on Mondays until 11am and I was exhausted. I had leftover crab pizza that I had purchased at LaGuardia airport (which was surprisingly yummy) before heading to my Environmental Communication class. For that lecture, the professor lectured on thinking ecologically about environmental communication and brought to light how materials and systems and the environment also play a role in communication. I was able to give the definition of communication being constitutive so I was quite pleased about that. Following class, I headed to the post office to pick up a package. I was wondering what exactly it could be since I was not expecting any mail and was pleasantly surprised to receive my retro red dress that I had forgotten I ordered. Sadly when I tried it on later that night, it was way too big. Then I went to my US-Latin American Relations class where the professor lectured on the contemporary world in regards of neoliberalism and GDPs and South America’s move to the right in recent elections. He also gave us a few marks back so I apparently have a 95.7% in that course, but he has to grade more things. That professor is very pleasant, but he is very busy (teaches 9 courses) so it is understandable that he takes so long. Following class, I had lunch with my DZ sister Jacky and I ended up eating 3 plate fulls plus dessert. We chatted for an hour and a half, exchanged break stories and talks about the end of semester, and it was really nice! After lunch I headed to work for a general team meeting. And after work I headed to my evening US Presidency lecture where we discussed the constitutional powers of the presidency that gives him the capacity to influence congress and supreme court. Right after that class ended I ran to my sorority meeting, which took very long. I left my dorm at 10:30am that day and did not get home until maybe 10:30pm. I then cooked myself dinner and called my boyfriend for a chat. I had a very rough night trying to start and then finish a 10-page paper due for my International Terrorism class the next day. I eventually gave up and went to sleep at around 2:30am, setting my alarm for 6:20am.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hooray! It’s December! And only 24 more days until Christmas. This morning I woke up early to try to finish my essay before it was time to go to my TEDx planning meeting. I then left the meeting to go to the library to finish my essay, where I stayed until partway through class researching, writing, and then printing. I then headed to class and learned about terrorism in Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics. I handed in my essay at the end of class, and helped this fellow student Ethan pick up his nut shells that he had spilled on the floor. I then headed to a work meeting. Following the meeting, I went to a Her Campus UMaine meeting where we chatted and I picked up a story. After that, I attended a Bernie Sanders campaign meeting and signed up for both phone banking and canvassing in New Hampshire on the weekends. After that, I went home and ate some dinner. And then I attended a lecture by Nicole Maines whose family helped share her story and educate the audience on transgender realities and rights. I ended the night by doing laundry, talking to my boyfriend on the phone, and staying up until 2:30am writing about Environmental Communication theory and typing up this post. So good night! Looks like tomorrow morning will be another sleep in day for me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I woke up and didn’t have much breakfast, but I went to class and we had time to work on our Environmental Communication projects. My group is doing a blog post on framing dam news stories. I went to my next class, US-Latin American Relations where we watched a documentary on the Washington Consensus & Argentina. It was very chilling to see footage of protestors and how the police treated them. Also the fact that their elected leader went back on his promises and was actually for the complete opposite policies the entire time. The architecture I saw in the documentary was quite European and the people looked very European as well, I noticed. After class I had lunch with my sorority sister Jacky and my exchange friends Holiday & Nelly. Then I did some work at the library and looked over the footage I took in New York. In the evening, I attended a workshop with my sorority and we made dog toys to be donated to the Bangor Humane Society while hanging out with two corgis! I watched my British friend Callum’s soccer game and then watch John Oliver videos with my Australian friend before calling it a night.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Today I went to work and finished building a website and coding for a form. I had lunch with my sisters Jacky & Maria, and ate lots of ice cream before class. My International Terrorism class today made me very shocked and sad for humanity. It really made me want to do something to fix broken society. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. After class, I headed to work for a brief meeting. I spent my evening volunteering at the Manna Soup Kitchen in Bangor (I was in charge of sandwiches) and then attended daily mass at a 19th century Native American church. It is apparently the second oldest in the state of Maine. I had ramen and toast for a very sad but quick dinner before meeting with Jacky to walk to a social with a fraternity. We had ice cream and good conversation and we got to meet a lovely, friendly puppy! I then went back to my dorm to finish an assignment for my American Foreign Policy class about the upcoming Venezuelan election. Now I’m blogging and then I will work on my US-Latin American relations assignment and maybe look over photos I’ve taken recently.

Friday, December 4, 2015

This morning, I cooked chicken (fried and baked), so I will be eating that for a few days. I then headed to Memorial Union to meet with my Environmental Communication project group in the Maine Campus office to discuss progress and the next step in our individual write-ups. Afterwards I headed to my US-Latin American relations class where we talked about things like government and business relations as well as the TPP. Then I called my dad while I ate my chicken lunch. I stopped by work briefly for a meeting with my co-worker, and then finished a current event assignment. I headed back at around 4 to grab some snacks before meeting with my friend to wait in line for the hockey game which started at 7…It was a very long commitment! We waited outside in line, just talking. I was mainly with Meaghan and Sophie. There were lots of freebies like hot dogs (with pink hello kitty napkins!), hot chocolate (from the For The Kids Dance Marathon organizers), burritos (from a Christian group called challenge), and “Beat UNH” t-shirts. We were near the front of the line and so we got seats towards the middle in the student section. I could see though I’m not that tall so it was good. I’m pretty sure I’m bad Maine hockey luck though since they only scored every time I wasn’t looking. First I was sending a text, and the next two I was getting a cheeseburger and coke for dinner… The hockey game was an awesome atmosphere. At first, I was just a poised observer (I also filmed a few songs and chants), but then as the game proceeded I began to feel more like part of the crowd and danced and cheered along. The band was great and really helped with the student cheering. The school spirit is awesome. There were specific dances and chants that I was unfamiliar with but everyone else seemed to understand the gist. Must be a sub-culture almost that gets passed along the classes as the years go by. UMaine and UNH (our biggest rival) tied 3-3. They went 5min. overtime, but I was surprised they didn’t have a shootout. After the game, I walked my friend Meaghan to her friend’s car (partially) before heading home to Skype my boyfriend. And now here I am typing this blog post while watching Kylie Jenner’s Ellen interview on youtube!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I volunteered at the University of Maine’s Museum of Art’s December Art Factory, which was a holiday craft fair for kids before the Bangor Christmas parade. Getting there was difficult since the bus system is confusing and not part of Google Maps, but I made it! It just took me an hour or so to get there, but I made it. I had a great time making watercolour art with the children. Kids are so creative! We really should not limit their minds or spirits because the things they come up with and create are all just so beautiful, and that is something to be celebrated. After volunteering for the day, I got back to my dorm and showered and decided what to wear to the Delta Zeta formal later on in the evening. I then walked to my sister Jacky’s dorm with my stuff to be picked up by Chantel to go to Amy’s apartment to get ready. We had snacks and food and listened to music while doing our hair and makeup. Jacky made my hair look amazing. She is fantastic at curling hair. My other sister Eileen did my eyes, but I decided I liked my face better without makeup so I went au natural! I am glad I love my face just the way it is, because boy is makeup time consuming! There were lots of ladies getting ready for formal and everyone looked great! We then went to go pick up our dates, and I went to formal with a new friend (Jacky’s friend) Jesse and Jacky brought her best friend Isabel. We posed for photos at Buchanan Alumni House and then went inside to have appetizers and hit the dance floor. It was a ton of fun just dancing with my friends. Afterwards, I went to Delta Tau Delta’s initiation party and then went home to call it a night!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I just went of social media for most of the day, but I did attend the UMaine School of Performing Arts’s annual Yuletide Concert at the Collins Center for the Arts. I saw violinists, an orchestra, choirs, etc. I then went back to my dorm to watch Christmas music videos on YouTube as well as show my roommate an episode of John Oliver. I also learned that Miss Philippines won Miss Earth once against this year. I went to church at the Newman Center and had this yummy burrito-salsa-y soup for dinner. I then went to the library where I struggled to write my US Federal Budget balancing assignment. I went home when the library closed, and eventually gave up at a very late hour because it was hopeless and the US medical care system is way too confusing to navigate.

Monday, December 7, 2015

This morning, we launched the Call for Speakers for TEDxUMaine! I hope people apply. I printed and distributed over a hundred posters and made presentations whenever I could. I went to my Environmental Communication class and watched two group projects: social justice who made a short documentary and rhetoric who made a canoe story. During my US-Latin American relations class, we talked about the Venezuelan elections and recent Latin American current events. After class, I had lunch with Jacky & Sophia at Wells, then I went to a work meeting before heading to my US Presidency class. In my US Presidency class, we had our mini-Congress debate sessions, but I was very frustrated with what I heard in regards to taxing the rich (if you’re my Facebook friend, you can probably see my somewhat calm vent here). After class, I headed to my last ever Delta Zeta meeting. It was sad for me when it was over! I will miss them all very much. I walked back to Patch with my composite picture. I just spent the rest of the evening going online again and researched agenda-setting and framing theories for a project write-up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Today, I went to work and then thought of ways to do outreach of campus. I took my co-worker Christien out to lunch before heading to class. I got my third essay back for my International Terrorism course and was very pleased with my grade! During class, my peers discussed the Israel/Palestine conflict, ID cards, and topics like immigration. Afterwards, I went back to work. I attended my last Her Campus UMaine meeting and pitched three stories. I then went to mass at Holy Family Church in Old Town(?) because today is the Immaculate Conception aka a holy day of obligation, instead of attending Lamda Pi Eta’s study night like I had planned on because I totally forgot about mass. I also got caught up with eating food once I got back to my dorm so I forgot about my friend’s symphony’s concert at the CCA tonight too…Oops. Too much forgetting! I did wash dishes though and had two dinners! Only because it’s 2am-ish now…I honestly just spent a lot of time on YouTube and social media. I also skyped my boyfriend for about an hour at least. Oh, I also booked my flights finally. And did a food tally. Moving out entirely is going to be difficult. I did some finance and accounting stuff, but other than that not much. A few friends wanted to read my essay so I sent it to them. I hope I can get motivated to study tomorrow…

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I went to class and watched presentations from public participation, science communication, and visualizing dams and rivers. I headed to my next class, US-Latin American Relations and watched a documentary about Plan Colombia and the drug war. I learned how they were using pesticides on an entire area to kill drug plants, but also on children, pregnant women, crops, etc., causing health problems for the people. I also learned about the paramilitary forces. After my classes were done, I stopped by the Fogler Library reserve reading room to play and pet the therapy papillon and lab dogs before heading to lunch at Wells. I ate lunch for about 2 hours and sat with Noah, Sophia, Sophie, and Jordan over the course of that time as people passed by. We mainly talked about high school, teachers, rent, and real estate. I then walked back to my dorm with an enormous food baby and just hung out and chatted with my roommates telling stories and looking at wedding gowns and engagement rings. Amy borrowed my camera for her film project and then Ben and Callum popped by and I walked partway with them when they went to get dinner and I went to help Amy with setting up the camera. I was so full so I didn’t join the boys for dinner. I walked over to the Newman Center for the Christmas sweater party and we ate walking tacos and made cards for Father Bill’s birthday with markers and glitter glue. I chatted with Matt, Drew, other Matt, Meaghan, and other people. At 9, I had a floor meeting so I will have to remember to have a check out appointment with my CA next week before I leave. Afterwards, I dragged my roommate to Midnight Mosaic at the student union where we visited the different rooms hosted by the African Students Association, Caribbean Club, Muslim Students Association, Jewish Students Association, and Asian Students Association. I can’t remember if I’m missing any. We got to try different treats; try on cultural wear; get our names written in Hebrew and Arabic; eat chocolate; dance and hula hoop; sing karaoke; get henna tattoos; and play maracas. We got back at around midnight it was quite a night of fun. Unfortunately I am very silly and accidentally brushed my wet henna’d wrist against my canvas bag and it stained a bit. 😦

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It is officially the start of my last week in Maine. Today, I had one of my last work meetings. I was very tired though since I had stayed up very late. After work, I headed to Memorial Union building to try to get a photo with Santa, but I couldn’t figure out how to use the credit union ATM that gives out $1, $5, and $10 bills. It was by donation and though I’m sure it was for a good cause, I’m sadly not rich enough to give $20. Christien and I went to the Mind Spa room and played with kinetic sand. It was kind of a weird thing, half sand, half crumbly dough. It wouldn’t stay up straight; it wouldn’t stay clumped either. We made a sandcastle, fish, snowman, igloo, and other weird stuff. I was starving so I went to the dining hall and ate lunch by myself before heading to my International Terrorism class. I have gotten to grow fond of that class and my classmates who provided engaging, diverse discussion. Heated debate is probably a better word. I shook my professor’s hand after class because he is awesome and I wish I could take more classes with him. After class, I headed to work briefly before going to meet up with my Environmental Communication project group members. I had to leave early to change and head to the All Greek Gala. I wore a black strapless dress, my navy blazer, and pink heels. The Gala had appetizers like little sandwiches, cheese, fruit, meatballs, and lemonade. During the gala, they had speeches, chapter reports, and induction of the new council members. After the gala, we took photos as a Delta Zeta group and then Jamie dropped me off at the library. I got changed into jeans and a DZ t-shirt and have been sitting here working on my Environmental Communication project ever since. I had to cut down my theoretical framework paragraphs, and I fixed up our APA citations/references. Now that I’m done doing that, I’m probably going to FINALLY start studying for my US Presidency exam happening on Monday.

New York Trip

As part of the Killam Fellowship’s Cultural Awareness Program, I had the opportunity to visit a city I had only ever seen in photos or in movies: New York City! I am having such an amazing Thanksgiving break in the big apple so I would like to share my adventures with you.

Day 1

4:00am – Catch a cab to the Bangor Airport.
Once at the airport, I checked in, went through security, and waited by my departure gate. This was probably achieved by 4:40am.
5:20am – Boarding. Zone 3, so I was one of the last ones to board. The gentleman beside me mistakenly took my window seat so I did my best to just sleep in the aisle seat.
5:45am – Take-off! Well…kind of. The plane had to be cleared off of ice with this shower on the wings since it was snowy in Maine the morning I had left.
7:30am – Touchdown in New York City! I bought an unlimited MetroCard pass for the duration of my stay, and somehow managed to take the bus and subway and walk all the way to my friend’s apartment in West Village. The subway experience was overwhelming! People were like sardines and crowds were huge. Also, people would bump into you and not say sorry! I was constantly saying sorry. It took about an hour to get there. I noticed strangers weren’t very keen to give you directions if you were lost. I spent the rest of the morning catching up and getting settled in. I also made sure I worked on a paper that was due (online submission) at midnight.

“Welcome to New York!”

Taking the subway at 8:30am is a nightmare.

2:30pm – After food, working on my paper, and getting a few power naps in, my friend and I left for some tourist attractions! Now the actual times get blurry, so I will just be using place headings.

The Highline

We took an uber to the Highline, which is a walkway in the sky (it’s not that tall). Think of a SkyTrain bridge, or a train track bridge that’s as tall as the roof of the average church building. During this time in late November, much of the plants looked pale, faded, and dead, but it was still a pleasant experience to walk along it. There were tourists everywhere. There were also Asian monks who give you this shiny rectangle thing and bracelets, but I was unsure what they were saying to me in Mandarin so I apologized and went on my way. Anyways, the sights along the Highline were quite nice. You get a much higher and up-close perspective of the surrounding buildings. If you look closely at some sections, you can see train tracks along the edge. You can also see the water. One interesting thing was that were was a section to sit on benches and spectate traffic passing underneath the bridge through a glass window.

View of a building from atop the Highline

Chelsea Market

Right below the Highline is Chelsea Market. It was some kind of crafts market. Vendors were selling things from zip-up small canvas purses and jewellery to leather belts and photo buttons. There were also lots of dining options such as a cupcake and sweets shop, and a lobster restaurant. A lot of the items for sale were outside of my budget, but if you like craft jewellery, then I suggest stopping by! There is also a baseball related establishment connected to Chelsea Market. And there was this gorgeous lit-up arch where I am told several marriage proposals have happened.

Arch made out of white lights over a clock at Chelsea Market

Union Square

We then went to union square and walked around the Holiday Market. This place was similar to Chelsea Market but geared towards Christmas. It was basically a lot of open pop-up stands and crowds. There were stands selling cider, living ornaments, spices, more jewellery, artwork of the NYC subway lines, etc.

Union Square Holiday Market Sign

Shoppers at the Holiday Market

Washington Square Park

The next thing we saw was Washington Square Park. Here there was an arch that reminded me of l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Below the arch there was a memorial for Paris. There were lots of people and some skateboarders. It is apparently the NYU campus hub.

The arch at Washington Square Park

New York University

The next place we stopped by was Kimmel Building, which is NYU’s student union building. If you go all the way up to the top, you get a lovely view of other buildings downtown. The street lines up perfectly with the window we were standing at so you can really see the beautiful cityscape from a higher perspective. However, you will need an NYU student to come show you since it requires a pass to get past the security gate. We also stopped by and took a look inside the library, which is just the next block over.

View of Washington Square Park and beyond while there is still daylight

View of Washington Square Park and beyond after sundown

Dinner

My friend and I headed to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and had delicious pho. I can’t remember the name of it right now, though. And then we headed back to West Village and I finished my paper.

Day 2

Day 2 started off somewhat lazy since I slept in due to lack of sleep from the early travelling day prior. I ended up hanging out with a different NYU friend that day.

Shopping

I did a bit of shopping at Banana Republic on 89th, but unfortunately American clothing seems to not want me to buy it.

I’m confused by how their size 0 skirt (gorgeous and ON SALE I recommend you purchase this!) was too loose on me.

Central Park

My friend and I walked through Central Park to get to the Met. I also took the time to snap photos because the scenery was absolutely beautiful!

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THe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Seeing the Met was hands down the best decision of my trip to New York City thus far. You have to visit it if you come to New York. The admission is by donation, though they have suggested pricing. There is also a free coat check. You are not allowed to take video or flash photography, or bring beverages. The museum is full of everything! I saw art from Ancient Egypt, Africa, China, Japan, France, Denmark…and that’s not even everything! Words cannot even begin to describe the amazing and beautiful things I saw at the Met. I felt so cultured, like I had travelled the world and through time. The Met closed up at around 5:15-5:30pm.

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Grand Central Station

After the Met, my friend and I headed to Grand Central Station. It seemed very majestic in Madagascar, but it wasn’t as cool as I thought to be honest. It was a tad overrated. The place is swarming with people and I hear it never gets empty. But if you need to get somewhere, this might be the place you need to be!

Selfie at Grand Central Station

Schedule of departures at Grand Central Station (also customer service just below)

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library building reminds me of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The doors were confusing and did not seem to have doorknobs. Unfortunately by the time we got there it was closed.

The New York Public Library

Bryant Park

Bryant Park was similar to Union Square. They had a bunch of pop-up markets, but again they were a tad overpriced. There was a beautiful Christmas tree and an ice skating rink set up too.

Christmas Shopping at Bryant Park

Christmas ornaments on sale in Bryant Park

The Christmas Tree at Bryant Park

Dinner

My friend and I went to an Indian place for dinner where they sold spicy beef rolls. My spice tolerance is very poor so I bought a mango Lassi smoothie. It was so tasty and I recommend buying a little bottle!

Rockefeller Center

So I was supposed to watch the Macy’s Parade Balloons getting inflated, but I missed the admission deadline! For anyone wanting to go see the balloons in the future, it happens by the American Museum of Natural History. You have to get there before 9:15pm, and then they close it at 10pm. But I think it’s worth it since you get to see the giant balloons up-close!
I instead wound up at the Rockefeller Center. I decided not to go to the top of the Rock, but to come back at sunset.

Day 3

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I was up bright and early this morning to go see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We got there at around 7:30am, but there were already so many crowds so it was hard to see everything. I did end up finding a good spot. I saw Jordin Sparks, Trey Songz, QuestLove, and Andy Grammer. There were a lot of cute floats and balloons too!

(PHOTO WILL BE PLACED HERE)

Peekskill

My friend and I went to upstate New York for Thanksgiving dinner. It was very lovely and the family was very welcoming.

I am very sleepy now, so this post is to be continued! Sorry it isn’t as thorough as the other ones. Can’t wait to tell you all about Day 4! 🙂

Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new Prime Minister! Now let’s reform elections.

First of all, I am so proud of Canadians for exercising their democratic right to vote! 100 years ago, women couldn’t even vote in Canada. The voter turnout for last night was the highest in decades: “More than 17 million Canadians cast a ballot in the country’s 42nd federal election, making for Canada’s highest voter turnout since 1993.”

Based on the orange wave in 2011, the NDP’s seemingly strong support, and the NDP sweeping Alberta provincially, I had predicted either a Liberal or NDP minority government, because Justin Trudeau is also incredibly popular among Canadians, and the nation generally felt fed up with the Conservatives. I foresaw Stephen Harper no longer being Prime Minister, but I definitely did not see the Liberals painting the country red and winning a majority government! So that means Justin Trudeau, son of one of Canada’s former PMs Pierre Trudeau, is going to be the new Prime Minister and will once again be taking up residence in the house he grew up in on 24 Sussex.

Many ridings surprised me this election. I am very sad at beloved and talented NDP MPs such as Megan Leslie, Peter Stoffer, and Paul Dewar losing their seats. I’m also sad about some of my favourite Conservative MPs not getting re-elected. My boyfriend volunteered for the Liberal candidate in his riding who beat the Conservative incumbent that had been in power since the ’90s. (That race was a nail biter!) My Vancouver East riding, however, can definitely be called a “safe seat”. It has been NDP forever and ever it feels like. I also learned that my friend’s dad is once again an MP for his riding, which is pretty neat.

The most important seat for me was the one in Saanich Gulf Islands, and I am so incredibly happy that Elizabeth May was re-elected! She is a brilliant individual and an amazing MP. I have been very impressed by what I have seen from her. She works so hard on behalf of her constituents, the environment, and the future of Canadians.

That being said, yes Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new Prime Minister. I was ecstatic because he was one of my favourites throughout the election campaign, and I do think that there should be a change in leaders at least once every decade for even any organization to grow and move forward. He is a wonderful person, and despite those attack ads, I do think he is ready. (Really though, all our candidates were ready I would argue. We have very competent politicians who impressed fellow politicians and Canadians and worked their way up into leadership positions. We don’t have random unqualified government-leader candidates like Donald Trump in the race… – Sorry, I got sidetracked!!) However, this was achieved through strategic voting by Canadians everywhere rallying to oust Stephen Harper from his decade long reign.

As part of the Liberal platform, first past the post would be scrapped for a more proportional representation system for future elections. I hope that promise transforms into action. I started off this blog post with how proud I was of Canadians exercising their democratic right to vote, a privilege that many around the world are fighting for and dying to have.

What happened last night was a perversion of that democratic dream. Yes, we are free to vote in our federal elections. Each eligible voter is entitled to one vote in their riding. But last night was not yet the real democracy that Canadians could have. Because of our current election system, the candidate in each riding who gets the most votes gets that seat. For historically defined ridings, voters who side with another party may think “What’s the point? That party’s going to win in my riding anyways. They always do.” So say for example, in a given riding Candidate from Party A gets 51%, and Candidate from Party B gets 49%, Party A gets 1 seat. If Party A got 100% (theoretical!) in another riding, they obviously also get 1 seat. That’s how it currently works.

Canadians this election were urged to vote strategically this election to oust the Conservative candidate and prevent vote splitting on the left. Simply put, Canadians in some cases had to put aside their own true voting desires/party support and instead vote for the candidate that was most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate according to history/the polls.

Wait, what? So I can’t vote for who I want to vote for in order for my vote to have a use because that’s the way the system works?

How is it fair that say…500,000 Canadians voted for the Greens and yet there is only 1 seat when that proportionately would have equaled 10 seats? Just because those Green supporters are spread out, the party has little to no representation in the House. Watch this CBC video that summarizes the difference in election outcome had the system been different.

(Another critique: It’s so difficult when you are having trouble deciding between the candidate in your riding as a person, and also the party you want to support, should they happen to be different! Amirite?!)

The next time I vote federally, I want all my fellow Canadians to be able to vote for the party they truly believe in. Not the one they think will get rid of according to the general consensus was the least desirable political presence.

But seriously, to the 17+ million Canadians who voted in the 2015 federal elections, thank you for voting. Thank you for taking part in the democratic process. Thank you for believing in Canada, and believing that your vote can help shape our beautiful country’s future. Next time around, I hope your vote has the strength to shape it even more!

I once got to call the House of Commons my home and immerse myself in parliamentary debate and just learn and hear from MPs representing ridings from all over the country. I look forward to continue to learn and hear from all the new MPs who fill the seats of the House to represent Canadians from coast to coast as I follow Canadian politics from outside of the House floor. I hope these MPs will continue to represent their constituents on decisions to make Canada even better.

To outgoing PM Stephen Harper, thank you for your service and for leading Canada in the direction that you truly thought was the best for its future for the past decade. Congratulations to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Congratulations to all the other candidates and volunteers from other parties. Congratulations to all the voters. Everyone who took part in shaping Canada’s future last night should be proud in having participated. Sorry if your 18th birthday was today! Darn, bad being born timing, eh? (Also I’m super emotional so the sad defeat speeches kind of made me sad, but they couldn’t have all won.)

Anywho, I look forward to seeing what positive changes come to Canada within the coming years. (Please no negative changes! – Subjective, I know.)

Also, please do not ask me if I am a Conservative, NDP, Liberal, Green, Bloc, Communist, Libertarian, Pirate, Marxist, Christian Heritage, Independent, or what have you…because this post isn’t about being partisan. Thanks!

But I do leave you with the best photo ever:

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Xoxo, Diyyinah