Losing your GCB virginity: Expectations vs. Reality

A few weeks ago I turned 21 and, being a (relatively) normal human being, I naturally waited until the clock struck midnight; then, as soon as it was legal, I rushed over to Grad Center Bar to see what was behind the door to Narnia. Well no; I didn’t do that–it was a Sunday night and I was on work overload [Ed. – and they wouldn’t have let you in until the next day because #GCB!]– but I did make it over to GCB within the next week or so to see what all the fuss was about.

I feel like, as soon as you meet any upperclassmen at Brown, you start hearing rumors about GCB. Dude, were you at GCB last night? People talk about it like it’s some big secret. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. You might have some obscure representation of the GCB experience in your mind. Having recently traversed the bridge between the pre-and-post-GCB life, I thought I’d share some seemingly common scenarios in the thought bytes that surround this mysterious locale. Take this, if you will, as a kind of FAQ guide to our on-campus hotspot.

GCB entrance

The entrance to Narnia, aka GCB (above).

  1. Where IS the GCB, anyway? It’s gotta be in some hidden spot on campus, in some unbelievably rad building. 

It’s all in the name. You know Grad Center? Campus’s most attractive building? Yeah, well if you walk up the ramp off of Charlesfield, as if you’re heading towards Bear’s Lair, you’ll get to an incredibly scenic patio-type space: ominous towers, cheerful concrete, decorative dumpsters, and several overly-aggressive squirrels will greet you. On your right sits a strange block of a building that looks like someone put it there haphazardly, perhaps in a poor attempt to cover up a bit of the sea of concrete. At best, it looks like it could be home to Brown’s biggest trash room. But if you walk up to it, there is a sign by the door that says “Hours,” which looks like it was printed off of someone’s home computer in an unexciting font. You walk in, go down a set of stairs (so that you’re no longer in the block building, but in the space underneath it), and you find a dim, surprisingly chill space called “GCB.”

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The Lazyman’s Guide: Avoiding chores this Thanksgiving

For a lot of first years, this week will be the your first time home since the summer. And while you may have gotten used to having your only mug, which you drank tea from once at the beginning of the semester, unwashed, gross and chilling on your desk, your parents are not. You won’t only have to clean up after yourself (what does a bed look like when it’s been made, anyway?), but you can probably count on being asked to “help out around the house.” For the laziest of us, to whom the simplest chores may seem as difficult as running a marathon, here’s a guide to (dealing with) getting out of them.

dorothy

  1. Play the Friends Card

Always, always, always have plans. When your dad asks you if you can rake the yard, say “Oh, but Sheila and I were going to catch up over coffee and my guess is it’s going to be a looooooong chat.” Emphasize how much you’ve missed your hometown friends, and how, because the break is so short, you want to pack as much time in as you can with as many people as possible. Don’t forget to throw in some long bit about how sad it is that the times when you are home will become rarer and rarer.

  1. Or Play the Sibling Card. It’s Even Better 

Parents are suckers for seeing their kids spend quality time together. If you have brothers or sisters, pay attention to them. Watch movies, give them lots of hugs, take your younger sister to lunch, etc. Pull at your parents’ heartstrings until they are afraid to ask you for help because it would disrupt your wonderful newfound fondness for your brother. And actually, sibling time can be really fantastic anyway– don’t take it for granted.

  1. Be one with the P-Set

So a lot of us may actually have a significant amount of work this Thanksgiving. Every time you are home and sense your mom might be about to allot you a chore, make sure you are working intensely on your APMA problem set. Take on the homework and take out the home work.

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What we’re reading: The Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad attacks in a global context

We at Blog would like to extend our condolences to those who have been affected by recent and on-going attacks in Paris, Beirut, and elsewhere in the world. Thankfully, all 18 Brown students studying abroad in Paris were safe throughout the attacks. In light of recent events, this week’s “What we’re reading” will focus on the attacks in Paris, their international implications, and the international response by the media and society at large. At 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, November 18th, the Chaplains will host a “candlelight vigil to express our prayers, concern, and commitment to our global neighbors.” There will be a reception to follow in JWW 411.

On the night of Friday, November 13th, eight individuals killed at least 129 people and wounded over 350 others throughout Paris in an attack that has been linked to the Islamic State (ISIS). The eight attackers–seven of whom are dead–worked in three teams to carry out the attack that spanned the city, targeting several restaurants, the soccer stadium, and the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 victims were killed. The New York Times breaks down the timeline of events and the reaction of the French government.

French authorities have identified Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian man, as being responsible for orchestrating the attack, the New York Times reports. Authorities are also searching for Abdeslam Salam, 26, who is one of two French brothers living in Belgium who helped carry out the attack and is the only one of the eight attackers still at large.

The Saalam brothers lived in Molenbeek, a Belgian neighborhood that is largely populated by immigrants from the Arab world and has been linked to other attempted and successful attacks in Europe. Slate explores how Belgium became a hotbed for extremist activity. Politico reports that Jan Jambon, Belgium’s interior minister, is vowing to “clean up Molenbeek.” The implications of the connection of Belgians to the attacks are unclear as of yet. Jambon has not specified how he intends to “clean up” the area of concern. 

French President François Hollande declared that “France is at war” and enacted a state of emergency that he now proposes should be extended to three months, the Wall Street Journal reported. Under a state of emergency, the government can conduct raids without a proper search warrant. French officials conducted 168 raids early Monday morning throughout 19 departments, including Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. They arrested 23 people and put an additional 104 people under house arrest.

Looking Ahead (and Behind): ISIS, Immigration, and Islamophobia

France has expanded its aerial bombing of ISIS targets in Syria in response to the attack. They have dropped at least 20 bombs on Raqqa, Syria in the past couple days. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed and the country has been destabilized by various factions battling for control, including ISIS. The Atlantic outlines France’s role in fighting ISIS in Iraq since September of 2014. Olivier Roy, a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times outlining the geopolitical challenges to confronting ISIS and the likely course of action for France.

The conflict has displaced over  11 million Syrians, many of whom have migrated to Europe to escape the violence. For a more in-depth look at refugee resettlement, CNN has a report from September that looks at migrant flows. 

The attack in Paris raised concerns over accepting Syrian refugees into European countries after a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the suicide bombers. The Guardian cautions against jumping to conclusions about the discovered Syrian passport. Because of the attack, several governments whose nations have been opening their doors to these refugees are receiving intensified backlash from various citizens. In Germany, a country considered friendly to migrants, debate has been especially pointed and a tense climate has emerged (discussed here in Time). 

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Your favorite Halloween flicks re-imagined at Brown

What would happen if the movies you love to watch during Halloweek took place here on campus? We’d get some spooky results.

WARNING: Some of this content may not be suitable for children (or for the more fragile members of the student body). Please note that the following scenarios do not reflect the reality of the Brown experience. I should also add a SPOILER ALERT for any of the following movies.

  1. creepy hallwayThe Brown Witch Project: A group of three friends, after hearing rumors of a party, decide to venture into Grad Center. They gradually realize that they can’t find the party OR the way out. One of them decides to film their endeavors as the students become more and more distraught. After days of wandering the concrete, riot-proof hallways, they think they hear EDM coming from someone’s room. They enter, and never come back. A few days later, a phone is found with the video evidence and released to the student body.
  2. the villageThe Village as The Bubble: The entire Brown community is terrified of leaving College Hill, believing that terrible monsters live outside the Brown bubble. In the end, the horror stories turn out to be a conspiracy, and all that exists outside the bubble is some delicious food and a working train system that will take you to Boston for $10.
  3. silver statueChucky as The Circle Dance. What if those funny aluminum people could come to life and wreak havoc across campus? Actually, that’s terrifying. Let’s move on to something lighter.
  4. unnamed
    “It’s the Great Paxson, Charlie Brown!”:
    This piece would chronicle the Halloween of two Brunonian friends. Let’s call this dynamic duo Linus and Charlie. Linus is convinced that if the two camp out all night on the Main Green, Christina Paxson will appear in genie form and grant them wishes. Specifically, he plans to ask for a return of the Ivy Room Mac and Cheese. Charlie–although he’s reluctant about missing all of Brown’s Halloween festivities (aka Ultra), and thinks his friend might be a bit unhinged–decides to suck it up and stick with Linus anyway. The two end up falling asleep and DPS wakes them up first thing in the morning, concerned that they may have gotten too turnt the night before.
  5. shining twinsThe Shining: This classic would take place in Minden, which used to be an old hotel. It really is the perfect set. Picture your favorite campus doppelgangers chilling in the hallway as the creepy twins.
  6. beetlejuice

    He’s the ghost of Fishco, am I right?

    Beetlejuice as Fishcojuice: Two freshman fear that they don’t know how to “do college” very well. By saying “Fishcojuice” three times in a row, they summon the ghost of Fischco to help them. Picture Christina Paxson doing this at the Ratty.                         

  7. The Silence of the Lambs: On second thought, even from a purely theoretical standpoint, I don’t want this movie to have anything to do with our campus. Ever. This is how I feel just thinking about it:van der meme yikes
  8. A Brunonian’s Sixth Sense— “I see dead Keeney.”: A freshman is somehow able to see and interact with all the things on Brown campus that have been eliminated over the years: the Gate, the old version of Keeney where you can freely walk the hallways between Jameson, Archibald, and Everett, even Tedeschi‘s. He looks to an older student for guidance, and in the end (PLOT TWIST) it turns out that the student was actually an alum in denial about the fact that he had graduated.

sixth sense

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Here be dragons: RISD’s Nature Lab

dragon

(Pictures taken in RISD’s Nature Lab)

Here’s a riddle for you: where can you find a dragon, a preserved dog fetus, and a whale vertebra, all in one place? The answer is 13 Waterman St, a spot that is incredibly close to Brown’s campus and is home to RISD’s Nature Lab. Having heard of it last summer, I made the not-so-long trek over to the building last Thursday, unsure of what to expect; would I find one small room with a couple of fish tanks?

This was most certainly NOT the case.

Walking into the main room of the Nature Lab can be overwhelming. Not because it is disorganized or crowded, but because there is so much to explore. Cabinets and drawers line the walls, filled with specimens of all kinds, from butterflies to minerals. There are all types of plants, and multiple tanks and cages, homes to turtles and other living animals. Larger preserved animals occupy space outside the cabinets: you might notice a bear, a deer, or the puffer fish hanging from the ceiling.

What’s really cool is that you can take out, handle, and study most of these specimens. Basically, you feel like a kid in a candy shop and keep asking, “What’s that? And that??!” At least that’s what I did, to some extraordinarily helpful Nature Lab staff, including Lab Coordinator Betsy Ruppa, who answered many of my questions about what the different specimens were.

Ruppa said the facility ends up functioning as a library. Students often use the Nature Lab as a resource for various projects and are even allowed to check out many of the objects. Entire classes, many from RISD but also other schools, will come in to use the space. The lab additionally helps students out in a myriad of ways beyond providing them with draw-able subjects. Students of everything from apparel to architecture come in to investigate the forms, shapes and textures of natural objects. Ruppa explained that students use the lab to study “anything that relates to nature and how nature solves its problems of design.” For example, she explained that an architecture student might want to examine the structure of a bird’s nest. Clothing designers might need inspiration for prints. The way bones connect can give insight into how hinges work; the way certain insects’ wings unfurl and then return to their resting position mirrors the way the top to a convertible opens and closes.

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March Like a Penguin: Tips on dominating the unheated dorm

March_of_Penguins_600

The weather’s changing, folks. We’re transitioning from the season of waking up plastered to our sheets by sweat with five fans surrounding our beds to that awkward season where we’re still waking up plastered to our sheets, now paralyzed by frigid dorm rooms. It might seem petty to complain, especially since it’s going to get a lot worse in the coming months (brace yourselves, freshmen from California), but at least when hardcore winter hits we’ll all have reliably cozy refuges (a.k.a. heated rooms) from the cold.

If you’re like me and live in a currently unheated dorm, your room could be even colder than the great outdoors. A certain sequence of events might sound familiar to you: Your alarm goes off. You can’t get out of bed. No, you’re not tired. In fact, you’d really like to brush your teeth and eliminate your abominable morning breath, or make yourself a cup of coffee. But every time you extend a limb–nay, a finger–or lift your head out from underneath the blankets in which you’re hibernating, BOOM. Antarctica hits. Every few minutes you’ll try again, give up, withdraw back into your blankets like a crab into its shell. This could last for up to an hour before you muster the courage to face the chill.

cat in bed meme

Such a constant state of cold discomfort can make EVERYTHING more difficult, from taking a shower to studying. Especially compared to the phenomenal warmth of a comforter, the frigid walk to the bathroom can seem like an impossible task. And until Brown does turn on the heat in all buildings, here are some tips for marching like a penguin (a.k.a. continuing to perform basic daily tasks without hating life, Brown, and New England):

  1. Keep a sweater next to your bed. Now, you might not want to wear your warmest, fuzziest sweater to bed. That, added to your quilt, comforter, sheets, throw blanket, and insulating aluminum foil, might make you feel a little overheated. So, for the dreaded moment when you need to leave the bed, ALWAYS have a sweater an arm’s reach away. If that isn’t enough, you could put the next day’s change of clothes by your bed as well. That way you can change under the covers and never have to subject your poor body to the chill.
  1. Wear your best pair of socks. Always. It’s scientifically proven that keeping your feet warm helps keep the rest of your body warm as well. Alright, that may not be entirely true. But it IS true that your feet, on the periphery of your body, suffer prominently from the cold. That brings me to tip number two: always wear a nice thick pair of socks. If you only have flimsy athletic socks, wear two pairs at once. Worried about having to take them off to put on flip-flops when you have to walk to the bathroom? Don’t worry, socks and sandals are in. Or at the very least, whoever spots you between your room and the bathroom (suitemate, hallway go-er, etc.) probably won’t look anything like Ryan Gosling and, more importantly, won’t really care.
  1. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate. A hot cup of anything can be both a great motivator for braving the cold and an added protection against it. If you’re lucky enough to have a roommate, suitemate, housemate, or friend who is simply a better person than you and offers to bring you a cup of tea, definitely take advantage. With that kind of luck, you can even stay under the covers until you get your tea, then carry it around your room as your very own weapon against the cold.
  1. Changing: a systematic approach. It’s that unfortunate time of day when you have to change into your work clothes, or your gym clothes, or whatever. No, your boss said, PJ pants are not appropriate for when you’re sitting at your desk. Change your clothes systematically: leave your pants on while you change your shirt and vice versa. Keep as much of you as warm as possible for as long as possible.
  1. The hunger strategy. Ok, so you’ve been hiding under the covers, and you really need to leave them to study for the ten midterms you have this week. But studying isn’t exactly the most appealing activity. Eating, on the other hand, is a much better motivator. Think about the pizza you really want from Andrew’s, or that warm Blue Room muffin. It’s much easier to put off working than it is to put off eating. Then, when you go out to get food, bring study materials with you. Try to study in the Ratty, or head to the library after a meal. The SciLi may be drafty, but it’s definitely better than your dorm.
  1. Ripping off the Band-Aid. That whole cycle I talked about, when you venture a limb outside of the covers and immediately freak out? Try not to do it. In the mornings, leap out of your bed like you’re late for lunch with Taylor Swift. It’ll feel like jumping into a cold pool: over in a heartbeat.

Luckily, the heat is supposed to be turned on by this Friday (WOOOHOOOOO!!!!!), but for now, hopefully these tips will help you power through the next few days. Stay warm, Brunonia!

happy feet gif

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