Charlie “Brown”ing: Existential concerns upon returning from abroad

charlie brown

Ok, so you were abroad last semester, and you’re a little confused. It’s not that you weren’t excited to come back — in fact, you couldn’t wait to eat your first spicy with in over half a year and hug it out with friends who understand lingo like “You do you” and “OMAC.” It’s just that things seem different. When you had your first “spicy with” of the semester, your stomach was NOT happy afterwards — devastatingly, you’d lost your immunity to Jo’s food. Worse, you feel disconnected from some of your friends, and hardly anyone says “You do you” anymore.  You can’t help but feel like Charlie Brown moping around and asking questions about everything that feels different, weird, and new.

But the worst thing of all, the biggest challenge you’ve faced, came at you when you braved the deep dark depths of the Ratty. You were at a little joint called the Ivy Room for a late-night smoothie, and what happened when you went to put the straw in the cup? It bounced right back at you. The caps don’t have holes. What kind of sick person planned that?

Wait a minute. This Ivy Room debacle has nothing to do with your time abroad. Your friend is also horrified by it, and she was here last semester. Maybe you’re not so alone after all. Let’s face it: this concern with belonging to a community is pretty much universal, and it’s something you’ve been dealing with since middle school, when Lucinda wouldn’t let you sit at her lunch table. It’s something pretty much all of us have dealt with at some point. And a big part of belonging, of the Brown identity, seems to be related to contentedness in being here. If you’re at Brown but you don’t feel as content as everyone else in being at Brown, you might feel alienated. Then you get to those questions bigger than “Why don’t the caps have holes?” You ask, “Why isn’t everything fitting just right? Why don’t I fit just right? Why can’t I achieve the ultimate mellow of those people playing Frisbee on the quad?”

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What does it mean to be unhappy at the happiest school in the nation?

In 2010 and 2011, Brown topped Princeton Review’s list of the colleges with the happiest students. Despite Brown’s dislike for rankings, this solidified for many what was already conventional wisdom: Brown is the “happy Ivy.” With our laissez-faire attitude about requirements and grading (and sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll), how could Brown students not be in nirvana?

My freshman year, this narrative defined my experience here. My freshman Facebook album title was Utopia; I was certainly attending the happiest university in the nation, if not the world.

But sophomore slump came, as it always does, and it got me thinking: can Brown’s reputation as the bastion of happiness be damaging for us? And who and what does this narrative let sit below the surface?

I drafted an anonymous survey, sent it out and received an overwhelming number of responses. It seemed Brown students from all corners of campus had something to say about this.

Before continuing, I’d like to clarify that neither this survey nor this article were specifically tailored to the experience of students struggling with mental illness and whether or not they feel Brown structurally supports them. Many responses to the survey did deal with this equally important issue and I felt those voices would best be served in an upcoming follow-up article specifically centered on the matter.

Instead, the survey attempted to look at happiness culture and its subsequent effects from a broader lens. The first question was:

What do you feel is Brown’s culture/reputation regarding happiness and wellness of students?

“If you’re not happy at Brown, you’re doing something horribly wrong.”

Every single respondent agreed that Brown’s reputation was that of a happy school. Many respondents connected this image of Brown to both lists of the happiest universities placing Brown at the top, and to misconceptions about our academic culture, such as ‘not having grades’ and ‘not having any requirements.’ (This is only true when talking about general distribution requirements but not true for one’s concentration. Concentration requirements cause a great amount of stress for students.)

Unsurprisingly, many Brown students felt that ranking something as intangible as happiness is ultimately detrimental to the students at the ranked schools. One respondent described Brown’s happy reputation as “damaging,” while another respondent felt that entities outside the Brown community (such as the Princeton Review) describing Brown as a happy school actually influences how students interact with each other and with the university, perpetuating certain unhealthy cultural elements at Brown.

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Spotify and Uber team up, bring happiness

Look how happy they are.

Look how happy they are.

You can officially control everything from your phone. You can already hail a cab, via the magic that is Uber, and stream unlimited music, thanks to Spotify. Now you can stream unlimited music on your Uber driver’s radio.

Yesterday, Spotify announced a new partnership with Uber that will allow premium Spotify users to control the music in participating drivers’ cars. This new service launches Friday in London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto, with continued launches to come in the following weeks.

Uber is so excited about this new launch that they are giving users in launch cities the chance for ride-alongs and live sessions with artists including Andrew W.K., The Same Willows, Ximena Sariñana, Ansiktet, Professor Green, Diplo (of the Spring Weekend fame) Matt and Kim, Ricki Lee, Kevin Drew, and Jake Owen.

So, if you’re going home to one of these cities for Thanksgiving and you need to catch an Uber, tell your driver to turn off the oldies. You’re the DJ now.

Check out how it works in this handy video:

Jam on, folks, and here’s hoping Uber/Spotify doesn’t forget about Prov.

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Little Victories at Brown: Part 2

(BlogDH) Little Victories

Having a rough week? Struggling to finalize your Halloweek costumes? Need a little somethin’ to brighten up your day? We want to remind you how much you love this place by presenting to you Part 2 in our new series, ‘Little Victories.’ A literary booster dose of  positivity highlighting those little things that you can’t help but love. Here are the ten more ‘Little Victories at Brown’–the ‘small, universal pleasures’ we find around campus that make us the happiest student body in the country.

1. When you forget your laundry in the washer/dryer for a couple of hours and come back to find it unharmed. We all know and dread that moment… the moment when you realize that you forgot to collect your precious wards from that lawless land known as the laundry room. In a frantic burst of speed you head towards the dryer. Panting and out of breath, you anxiously peer through the machine’s window, and… find that your clothes are still there. You return back to your dorm cuddling them. While your unit finds your behavior disconcerting, you’re too happy about this reunion to give a damn.

2. When you can fit two cups under the water dispensers in the Ivy Room at the same time. If you place a giant cup under two of the water spigots, you fill it up in half the time. You’re also twenty times more excited to do something equally as cool as it is efficient while inebriated, hence the clutch-ness of the same water dispenser at Jo’s. You feel weirdly powerful and talented. How magical. Continue Reading

Little Victories at Brown: Part 1

(BlogDH) Little Victories

When was the last time you read a newspaper with a front page full of nothing but happy headlines? Couldn’t come up with a single instance? Neither could we. According to research presented on Lifehacker, this barrage of negative news has an alarming side effect on readers, training them to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. For example, a Brown student adapted to this mindset would complain about the stress of midterms and forget about the privilege of actually being here. We get it; it’s hard not to.

BlogDH figured that a literary booster dose of happiness and positivity couldn’t hurt. Taking a cue from Neil Parischa, we present to you the first ten ‘Little Victories at Brown’ in BlogDH’s new series — the ‘small, universal pleasures’ we find around campus that make us the happiest student body in the country. Continue Reading

Puppies on puppies on puppies (on the Green)


Avoid dark clothing and bring a lint brush because these pups are back and ready to snuggle! Come to the Main Green today, April 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Heavy Petting (Ed.-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) with Brown faculty members and their pups. Prepare yourselves for some good ol’ fluffy fun. If you can’t make it, enjoy this corgi on stilts. We’ll see you there!

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