Tag Archives: culture

This Midterm Season, Don’t Forget to Take a Break!

By Colette Au

As the first round of midterms reaches its peak, I find myself overwhelmed by my commitments. Again. It seems that every semester begins smoothly, but time management only helps so much to balance a life that, frankly, is overbooked.  As I learned in my gender studies class, Americans have the longest work week in the world. We can boast of our high GDP and standards of living compared to many other nations, but economic benefits come with hidden costs. This workaholic culture trickles down, and is especially concentrated at a university like USC. People who triple major, invest thirty hours a week e-boarding for several clubs, rushing and pledging in the Greek system, or work a full-time job alongside a full course load are our role models — the hard working ideal. Squeezing maximum productivity out of every day is the norm. Is this mindset of high-intensity social, academic, involvement helpful, or even sustainable in the long-term? Perhaps a dominant narrative negatively portrays a stereotypical American characteristic, rewarding effort without achievement, but I think there is an equally strong narrative that seeks to disrupt this view that Americans are lazy and entitled.

As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I grew up with Asian immigrant parents. Like many of their “tiger” counterparts, they stressed academic accomplishment, but unlike the tiger parent stereotypes, they told me I should also remember to take breaks and relax sometimes. However, in college, there is no one to remind me to put down my macroeconomics lecture slides and simply BE. As soon as I stop working, the guilt sets in. I don’t want to be a lazy and entitled American, I think. So I work harder and I overcommit. And when my laptop’s hard drive fails and I succumb to a bad cold that takes me out of class for a week, my self worth disappears along with my rigid work schedule. Lying in bed with used tissues and a glass of hot tea, I realized how easily my world was reduced to my Google Calendar’s events and task list in the semester’s first four weeks. I had become my commitments. My long-distance relationship was suffering because I was in club meetings, attending lectures, or working for most of my days. This is not what I envisioned for myself, but slipping into the “work hard, play hard” culture that permeates this campus is extremely tempting.

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Milk and Honey — The City Remedy

By Dimitris Tzoytzoyrakos

In the past several years, nothing has made as much of an impact onto the poetry world as Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. Having sold over one million copies, her collection of poems is actively being discussed, quoted, and plastered all over social media.

I will preface what I am about to say by stating that my opinion is entirely subjective, as it is with all art.

I believe the extreme popularity of Milk and Honey, while partly due to its feminist subject matter, owes much more of its success to its simplistic, minimalist, and easily-accessible form of craftsmanship.

It is never a good idea to say that art should ever be anything. However, one of the great beauties of poetry is its enigmatic or multi-layered nature of words. Unlike music, painting, or film, poetry is the art of words and strictly words. This limitation grants a heavy burden on the poet, as the words that they choose to construct their work could inhabit a territory of many possible meanings, bringing the poem to a certain degree of subjectivity to the reader. This gives the reader a new responsibility: to interpret the poem.

Interpretation is the root of discussion, argument, and understanding in art. It is what brings readers together to expand each other’s field of perspective and build upon their methods of reaching it.

Rupi Kaur’s language in Milk and Honey (for almost its entirety) does not attempt to suggest multiple meanings or take on an interpretive nature. Rather, her poems and their subject matter are very direct and on-the-nose, leaving the message of her poems out in the open for all to see and to collectively understand.

This of course could be a deliberate choice on her end, but it is easy to see how this style of writing limits the discussions to be had on her poetry, as far as their meaning is concerned.

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Communicating in Two Languages

By Jessleen Dhaliwal

My mother and I speak two different languages; she speaks Punjabi and I speak English. We choose to speak different tongues. My mother asks a question in Punjabi, and I answer in English. Even though we communicate, the truth in our words is lost.

I never understood how our words lost meaning until I read Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club. Tan describes language as a key factor in the cultural gap between Chinese mothers and their American daughters. In each story, there were misunderstandings because neither the mother nor the daughter understood one another. After reading The Joy Luck Club, I wanted to understand why my mother and I spoke different languages. Was it my limited knowledge of Indian culture? Or was it my mother’s fractured English? How could we speak, yet not understand each other?

When I finally asked my mother, she replied with a simple answer. In Punjabi, my mother said, “That is the way it has always been.”

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