Category Archives: Identity

Return to Practice

By Eileen Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When I was younger, I understood the concept of practice in the context of the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition: “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”. As a child who participated in many sports and played multiple musical instruments, practice referred to the events I worked on to improve my technical skills. At practice, I would learn how to do better through acts of repetition and intentional change. 

Eventually, I chose to centralize my practice towards my passion for dance. With my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, practice took on a whole new layer of meaning. I worked daily and repeatedly at a set of physical movements in ballet to improve and refine my technique. This repetition led to growth and mastery within ballet and my practice became understood as a necessary means that would result in self-improvement.

Photo by Nihal Demirci on Unsplash

As I got older, my conception of practice began to evolve. My practice became grounded in the habitual sense of coming back to something. There was still a level of mastery that I was after, but it was more so realized as a continuous and infinite pattern that I felt compelled to return to. Year after year and almost every day, I would start again at the ballet barre where I would repeat the same series of physical movements. But the sameness of this repetition never bored me, because everyday was different and I was different everyday. Every day brought its own joys and challenges, and everyday I came back with 24 more hours of lived experience. Everything surrounding me was in a constant state of change and the stability of my daily practice became like a refuge for me, one that I could always return to and find comfort in.

As I reflect on how I approach my practice in the present, I have found that in many ways, practice is similar to a routine. The habitual nature of both concepts are the same, but practice puts an intentionality to the repetition and implies a sense of growth. The contents of our daily routines can be the same as our daily practices, but approaching our daily routines as daily practices can drastically reframe how we approach our lives. For me, practice no longer only refers to the physical practice I put into my dancing body. My daily practices encompass how I approach my life, what I eat, what time I go to sleep, how I take care of my body, and how I take care of my mind.

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Solo Summer Adventures

By Rachel Priebe

[3 minute read]

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Growing up, I often spent part of my summers traveling with family or friends. To me, travel was an opportunity to discover new places, as well as to strengthen bonds with my loved ones. It was not until my first semester of college, however, that I found myself completely alone in an unfamiliar setting. I spent my fall semester at the American University of Paris. Other than the architecture, world-renowned art museums, and cafes, what I appreciated most about Paris was its location. Living in Paris put me in close proximity to other amazing cities in Europe that I wanted to visit. Within my first couple of months in Paris, I had already been on several weekend trips with friends and on a study trip to Warsaw, Poland. In the middle of the semester, we had a week off for fall break. The city that was on the top of my list to visit was Munich, Germany. Unfortunately, all of my friends wanted to spend their fall break elsewhere. Thus, I found myself venturing out on my first solo adventure.

Since that week in Germany, I have taken several trips on my own. The majority have been brief weekend trips, but I have recently taken a trip in which I spent over a month traveling in the Balkans. The greatest benefit that I have found in embarking on these trips alone is the immense sense of freedom you feel. Solo travel can make you feel unrestricted and give you a healthy sense of independence. When you travel alone, all of your decisions – about where to stay, where to eat, and which tourist attractions to visit- are your own and don’t have to be filtered through the minds and desires of other people. Another benefit that comes with this sense of freedom is spontaneity. When you only have yourself to account for, it is easier to make decisions on the spot. You can arrive at the airport without a concrete plan and then make up your route as you go along.

Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

A third reason to travel alone is that it gives you the opportunity to meet new people. I have found that when I travel with friends or family, I end up spending time exclusively with those people. While that is a great way to strengthen already existing relationships, travel is an invaluable opportunity to have new experiences, and one of the most enriching experiences is meeting new people who come from different backgrounds. There is a misconception that traveling alone is a lonely and solitary endeavor. This could not be further from the truth. When you travel unaccompanied, you instantly make yourself seem more approachable. It also becomes easier to go outside of your comfort zone and build connections with people who would have otherwise remained strangers.

Photo by Luca Baggio on Unsplash

Some of the most fascinating people I have met have been fellow solo travelers at hostels. I have found that people who travel frequently tend to be very free-spirited and full of interesting stories. Furthermore, bonding with more experienced travelers is an effective way to obtain travel advice. For example, when I was in the Balkans, I made most of my decisions regarding which places to visit based on the recommendations of fellow travelers.

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Memories of Home: Long Island

By Matt Solowan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Whenever people ask me where I’m from and I say New York, they always reply with something along the lines of “Wow, that’s so cool! You live in New York City!” I then have to remind them (and for some people teach them) that New York is actually a really big state, and New York City (or Manhattan more specifically) is only one part of it.

I grew up on Long Island, about an hour drive from Manhattan. While some people only know us Long Islanders as inhabitants of the setting of The Great Gatsby, we have also made quite a name for ourselves for other reasons. From the beautiful beaches of the Hamptons to our world-famous bagels and pizza, Long Island has come to be known for many things.  When I go home for breaks now, I like to squeeze in as many of my favorite Long Island-themed activities as I can possibly fit in. This got me thinking about what my perfect day on Long Island would be. So without further ado here it is:

I’d wake up early so that I can get to my favorite bagel shop while the bagels are still fresh. I’d order my favorite bacon egg and cheese on an everything flagel (slang for a flat bagel) and an iced coffee. No breakfast food can compare to a Long Island bagel, and in fact, whenever my family or friends come to visit me at school, I always beg them to bring me as many as they can( By the way, if you think you’ve had a bagel, but it wasn’t from Long Island, then you probably were just eating bread).

Photo by Ann on Unsplash

If it were summertime, I would then drive out to the beach with my friends, preferably the Hamptons or nearby Fire Island, but Jones Beach or Oyster Bay are nice hangout spots too. While we may not have the same crystal clear blue water that you find in the Caribbean, to me spending the day at the beach has always been like a mini-vacation (although the seagulls can get pretty annoying).

After that, my friends and I would return home to get ready to go out for the night. One of the best parts about living in the shadow of Manhattan is that at any time you can hop on a train and spend the night in one of the greatest cities on earth. No matter how many times I step out of Penn Station on arrival in Manhattan, I am always in awe at the sights and sounds of the city.

Photo by Alex Simpson on Unsplash
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