November 2010


 

I’ve been meaning to write this entry since the workshop, but alas, time and forgetfulness got in the way. Oh well.

Meiver taught a fan veil workshop in October. Although I had learned fan veil technique previously from Meiver over the summer and had a brief introduction in Chicago, I learned even more. The workshop was well-designed, with Meiver discussing where to buy fan veils and the difference in quality. It may seem like a minute detail, but the quality of your props makes a HUGE difference, as well as the size. With so many vendors out there and money not being as free flowing for most of us, these discussions are important to help make the best decisions.

Another important aspect in the workshop was Meiver discussing when and how she felt that using fan veils made sense and a brief history of fan veil use. I liked the history bit, because it was interesting. Hearing when and how fan veil use worked well was good, because it helped me envision what I could do with them.

The exercises Meiver had us do were a combination of new and old (well, to people who have experienced the fan veil stuff over the summer) things. One thing I liked that Meiver mentioned at the beginning was that we should try to remember and take away 5 things from the workshop. I’m currently assessing how I want to use workshops in my dance education; this five things method may be the answer I was looking for, because you cannot get everything out of a workshop.

A rather large part of the workshop was doing exercises across the floor or in a circle. This gave Meiver a chance to correct us individually. It also allowed us to travel in the space, something I admittedly don’t do that often (my home space is much too small).

We ended the workshop with a choreography of sorts, to see how the technique we learned fits into a song and becomes a dance.  Although I am not a fan of choreography workshops, I liked having that little bit to really understand how things work together; one of my area of improvement in my dance is to learn how to create really flowing dance and not feel like there are sudden, unintentional stops.

The workshop was packed full of information and remarkably, there is still more. Meiver is considering a Fan Veils Part 2 workshop to build upon what was done. Although I have been a little more reluctant to use fan veil and haven’t been much of a fan (no pun intended), I’m starting to be won over by them.

A local paper did a nice little article on Raks Nativity. Raks Nativity is this Saturday. Highly recommend that you check it out!

A friend of mine with a financial blog posted an entry about a student who is drowning in $200k of undergraduate debt. I began reading more about this student and thought it may be useful to share some practical advice on navigating financial stuff when it comes to college; although I am lucky enough to have not incurred any college or graduate debt, I’ve done extensive reading, navigated financial aid offices (my undergraduate fin. aid office, due to some issues, eventually memorized my student ID), and learned plenty from friends with various amounts of debt. Regardless of how you feel about her and whose to blame for her situation, there is much to learn to protect yourself from that much debt.

  • Seek out financial advice. In this article, this student admits to not seeking out advice and help at her high school. That is a huge no-no, especially for someone who may not have parents with the knowledge to navigate the financial aid scene. You don’t have to parade around the school, announcing you will be a first generation college student. If your college counselor or guidance counselor is MIA (mine was), ask a teacher. They went through the process and may have kids who also went through the process. Other people in your life, such as neighbors or family friends, may also know what to do. If that fails or you’re too ashamed to ask for help in person, look at the internet and do it anonymously. The US government has a site pertaining to financial aid, and there are many, many others.
  • Apply for scholarships. Plenty exist. I already mentioned I am Gates Millennium Scholar, but there are many other scholarships. Even if they are not full-rides, you can piece little scholarships together to help things. Don’t just search the web; your school district or other local entities may offer scholarships.
  • Look at the school’s financial costs and offerings. Not only consider the amount of attending the school (tuition, room and board) but also the amount of aid that the school gives and the percent of students who receive aid packages. Many schools have these statistics on their websites.
  • Consider extra expenses. Books, travel back home for the holidays, laundry, fun all add up. Make sure to include them in the cost. Also, if doing a study abroad program is part of your plan, make sure that your school extends its financial aid so that you can do that.
  • Negotiate Your Financial Aid Package. If your financial aid package doesn’t offer the amount you need, call up the financial aid office of that school to ask if they would reconsider giving more aid to you. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Ask questions! Before you sign anything (loan, financial aid offer, military agreement), make sure you fully understand what’s going on and that it’s all written out. Bring someone along if necessary. You are signing a legal document that someone will collect on eventually.
  • Transfer into a better school. Some students choose to take a year or two at a community college before they go to a bigger name school; some colleges even have built in programs that allow for that. Small warning: check to make sure each semester that you are taking classes that can transfer into your next college. Some people make the mistake of taking courses that will not transfer in and then have to take extra credits sometime. The registrar’s office should be able to confirm what will and will not transfer in.
  • Consider your goals. Ultimately, what do you want to do with yourself? A working teacher in one of my classes made the good point that it may not make sense to go to an expensive school and get saddled with debt if a) you’re planning on entering a career that will not pay well, b) you’ll end up needing more education, and c) the prestige doesn’t matter much in that career. Although he was talking about people going to expensive schools to become teachers, his point is something to be considered. I’m not telling you to skip going to a prestigious school (certainly, there are worthwhile aspects to prestigious schools), but it is something to keep in mind. In my experience with physics, those who get into physics graduate schools are not just MIT and CalTech grads but a motley group of students. A lot of what factors in is what you do with your education there and once you get out (and some of it is simply luck of the draw). Community colleges and less prestigious schools may be a better fit for your goals. I’ve known incredibly bright people who have attended less prestigious schools, who were very pleased with their educations. I’ve also known people at more prestigious schools who were not happy with their educations; I’ve known less than bright people who have attended some of the best schools in the US. Of course, I’ve known plenty in between at all types of schools. A name school doesn’t guarantee a top-notch education or being surrounded by geniuses. It definitely does not guarantee a job.
  • Negotiate your loans. If you are struggling to pay your loans, not answering the phone or responding to mail will not make them go away. This past October, the Boston Globe posted some excellent tips to handle your student debt.

With college application season full in progress, it is important to keep these thoughts in mind. The most important thing to do is be honest with yourself. Weigh in what’s important and what you’re willing to sacrifice. The point of this entry isn’t to dissuade you from going $200k in debt for an undergraduate (or graduate) degree but help you consider your options and realities. With the economy being what it is, landing a job period is tricky, let alone landing a job that helps pay back high debt. Good luck!

Melina of Moody St. Circus/Daughters of Rhea is holding a recital on December 12th from 5:30-7:30. My class through Najmat is participating; we’re doing a shaabi choreography.

If you’re interested in attending, it is advised that you buy your tickets ahead of time here.

I hope my readership has a delightful, restful, peaceful Thanksgiving! My Thanksgiving entails having friends over, catsitting for another friend, and healing a cold/flu.

This year, I’m particularly thankful that I’m in a grad program I enjoy and that my physics thesis is over. I’m also thankful that this year has been a productive year of dance for me. And of course, there are the people and things I’m thankful for every year. Friends, overall health, etc.- they always deserve a mention.

Again, have a happy holiday!

For my qualitative research project, I’ve been talking to physics students. Although I have a big pile of transcribing to do (2.5 hours of recorded goodness), I’ve begun noticing a pattern through the interviews. The pattern is a lack of confidence from the people I talked to. In my experience with physics, the culture lends itself to feeling doubtful about one’s ability; a popular phrase is “it is obvious” or “it is trivial” when it comes to things that well- aren’t obvious or trivial. My personal opinion is that statements like that are frequently covering that person’s lack of confidence in explaining the topic and/or their lack of knowledge, but I digress.

I found this article today called “The importance of stupidity in science.” Very good thoughts to keep in mind when doing research, regardless of whether it is science. Even though the article was written by someone who is likely a cell biologist, I related to it, especially the part about seeking new things to be challenged at (hence, doing dance).

I began this week with extremely sore muscles from Bharatanatyam on Sunday. Basically, we did some floorwork-esque dancing. My quads- well, I could feel my muscles working every step of the way; straightening my leg was difficult. Today is the first day my quads feel normal. That made everything take at least twice as long. I also attended dance class Tuesday and found out that was tougher than I had anticipated because of my quads. However, I don’t believe that attending class exacerbated or prolonged my achy quads.

The second big time consumer this week was that someone tried breaking into my apartment. Nothing was stolen and no one was injured, thank goodness (my SO caught the guy trying to come into the window), but it is still nerve-wracking. The police were called, they came out to investigate, etc. Although I am thankful that the local police were very concerned and did a fine job, it did take time. My landlord is supposed to stop by this weekend to ensure secure windows. This set back my week, because I had work that I needed to cram in today and tomorrow.

Hopefully, due to the holiday, next week will go back to normal.

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