Orlando it is!
This spring break, Linh and I visited four places in Orlando in three days and had a fantastic time. We would like to share some tips with you about how to squeeze but enjoy massive sightseeings. We hope you to have a productive and exciting trip to Orlando in the future.
Day 1: Beach and Kennedy Space Center
We went to Cocoa beach, the nearest one to Orlando, in the morning. Afterwards, we went to Kennedy Space Center, which is in the same direction as Cocoa beach. You can save some commuting time if you visit them together.
Day 2: Universal Studio
We bought two-park-ticket for Universal Studio, glanced all the attractions and completed half of them in twelve hours. There weren’t so many people in the morning. We didn’t wait in line for more than fifteen minutes before eleven, so be sure to come around the time it opens. I recommend you to go to Island of Adventure to play roller coasters and stimulators in the morning so that you don’t need to wait in line. At noon, you could take Hogwarts Express to go to Studio. There are some stimulators about popular movies and shops in Studio. But most importantly, Studio is best for taking photos. Every building and street decoration is perfect for pictures. If you are a Harry Potter fan, definitely come here! There is a huge area imitating Hogwarts and shops in Harry Potter.
Day 3: Disney World
Make sure your tickets are to Disney WORLD! I mistakenly bought the tickets to Disneyland, which is in California, and had to call Disney staff at midnight to cancel the tickets. It is way more crowded in Disney than Universal Studio. We started to wait in line at the monorail station before entering the park, so it’s better to arrive half an hour earlier than it opens. But, you can use FAST PASS in the park! You can reserve past pass for three attractions a month before the day you go. After using all three fast passes, you can continues to reserve attractions. Use fast passes as soon as possible in order to reserve more.
I hope these advices somehow help you!
“Why you are desperate to watch Chinese Spring Festival Gala?” My friend in China asked me.
I’m from China and as many of you know, we celebrate lunar new year with many other Asian countries. It has been a tradition for us to watch our countries’ gala on new year’s eve. However, in recent years, the quality of Chinese gala has gone down. It is full of ideologies, stereotypes, and not-humorous jokes. Gradually, more and more people stop watching galas.
As I’m in America now, I’m desperate to watch the gala when new year’s eve is approaching, the same as many other Chinese students. When my friend studying in China asked me why, I started to think about this change.
When I’m in China and stay with my family on new year’s eve, I’m already celebrating the new year even if I don’t watch the gala. My grandparent generation plays poker and mahjong together. My parent generation drinks. My siblings and I chat and joke around. That is the whole point of new year–family reunion, delightful time, and best wishes.
When I’m studying abroad, I can’t stay with my family. The only thing I can do to make me feel like celebrating the new year is watching the gala. It is the iconic activity of maintaining the tradition and having a pleasant moment. I believe this is the same for all other international students when they can’t see their families as the new year is around the corner.
I learned in English class that our world is based on the system of signifiers and signifieds. The new year gala is a signifier of origin, culture, and family ties. It doesn’t matter how the quality of the gala is. What matters is that we respect its meaning and never leave it behind.
Linh Vu is a Vietnamese freshman. She comes from Hanoi, the second largest city in Vietnam, where the traffic jam is totally insane but has a variety of food. She is extremely passionate about media and how it can change and expand people’s perspectives. Let’s get to know more about her.
I know you are interested in Cinema and Media Arts, can you tell us why?
Growing up with my grandpa’s black and white films he made, I got engaged in movies since childhood. What impressed me was not the technology used back then, but the ability of movies to convey messages that still apply to the modern world. Movies have ignited my interest in working towards a strong, liberal society and in the way it alters people’s views on certain concepts and opinions in life.
I used to be oblivious about feminism and its importance for women; however, documentary films “India’s Daughter” challenged me to learn about the true experiences of women’s repression and pursuit of equality around the world. Exploring film at Vanderbilt by learning from talented film students and outstanding professors would allow me to deliver my own messages as a feminist, thereby challenging stereotypes and repressive social norms. I want to make my own documentary films to raise awareness about issues like sex trafficking in third world countries and the LGBT movement in Vietnam. I believe, by learning professional film-making, I could add a creative dimension to my intended career in broadcast media, finding new ways to shed light on injustice and promote equality across the globe.
What clubs are you involved on campus that concerns with your interests?
I’m involved in Vanderbilt Hustler, Vanderbilt Television News, My Commons Life and Vanderbilt University Theatre. I used to work as a photographer and a video editor. I’m currently working on a project interviewing professors to improve her photo-taking and video-editing skills. For this project, I ask professors at Vanderbilt about their academic interests, advices, hobbies and other aspects students wish to know about them. This project will be featured on My Commons Life soon!
Is there a very impressive event or class during last semester for you?
Professor Ben Tran’s first year writing seminar about The Vietnam War has huge impact on me. Born and raised in the Vietnam, I have always taken pride in my country’s legacy and my ancestors’ struggle to gain independence and freedom. For a long time, my knowledge was limited by ambiguous datas of years, historical figures and visual war images delivered by Vietnamese teachers. Those lessons denounced war crimes, displayed the hardships of Vietnamese during the Second Indochina War, and blamed United States for all problems. However, I underestimated impact of war on people from different races, cultures and beliefs. As I learn my country’s history in another country, I started to look at this period from a broader picture that the North and South Vietnam were actually divided and used as pawns in the chessboard played by two foreign superpowers—the United States and Soviet Union—or two binary ideologies—Capitalism and Communism.
What is your favorite place to study on campus?
I would say my top choices are the Baseball Lounge in Sarratt and Vanderbilt Law Library. The reasons are quite simple. The Baseball Lounge is the ideal location for me to get wonderful food at Local Java or Rand whenever I am hungry, while the Law Library is an extremely quiet place with a lot of serious graduate students focusing on their works, which too makes me feel concentrated on my study.
Do you like to take photos with interesting murals? Here are five nearest mural walls around commons. The walk time is fewer than 30 minutes. At weekends, invite a friend, grab some snack, have a slow walk, and take some fantastic pictures. Pictures below are taken by some first year students.
5. Import Flowers(Murphy Road)
4. Road to the Skyline(Legend’s Corner)
3. Gulch: What Lifts You mural (11th Avenue South)
2. 12th avenue: Nashville at Heart rainbow mural (2705 12th Ave)
I Believe in Nashville murals (2702 12th Ave. S)
1. Hillsboro Village: dragon mural
Kay Bob’s Grill & Ale
5. We Bare Bears:
If you like bears and cute cartoon, this is definitely your choice. Three bears—Grizzly, Panda, Ice Bear—live together in a cave. One is a restless and outgoing brown bear. One is an otaku panda who spends all day on Internet. One is a silent versatile ice bear. They always bump into different troubles, but as they unite together and support each other, they overcome those difficulties every time.
4. Bojack Horseman:
Feeling stressed out or lonely or lost? Watching Bojack Horseman certainly makes your life happier. Many sharp characters and ridiculous situations in film industry are portrayed. Life is full of unexpected ups and downs for Bojack, the once-famous horse actor with terrible drug and drinking problems but also a good-natured heart. He sleeps with random girls, falls in love with his friend’s girlfriend, and finally regains popularity by his biography and acting in a movie about his idol. Every line in this sitcom is a hurtful truth that no one wants to admit. However, you may be encouraged by those truths somehow.
3. Young Sheldon:
I bet you all heard about Big Bang Theory. The story about four Caltech geek scientists’ job and how they meet their Mrs. rights. Tons of scientific facts, dirty jokes, and eccentric characters of Sheldon must bring you tons of joy. If you are not satisfying by just watching grown-up sheldon, you are more than welcomed to explore his childhood. The sitcom Young Sheldon season 1 is already released. A cute boy with super intelligent mind and weird habits tries to be an adult and cope with the environment he dislikes—Earth. This time, we can also dive into his family—capricious meemaw, simple-minded father, devout Christian mother, and not-as-smart-as-him siblings,.
Enjoy the time hanging out and living with best buddies? Love watching Friends and upset that it doesn’t have sequel now? Don’t worry. Joey will save your laughter. Remember Joey, the Italian actor in Friends who always screw up his job and have sex with women? This sitcom is about his career in LA after his five other friends settle down in different places. With his sister Gina, nephew Michael, neighbor Alex, Joey learns to live on his own, begins to have a successful actor career, and finds his true love.
1. Modern Family:
As we are leaving home for the new semester, do you still miss your family? I bet most of us do. Modern Family season 9 is on show now. It’s about how three distinct small families of a big family deal with their daily troubles and support each other. A reconstituted family with elder husband and younger wife. A family with various tricky children—indolent social queen, geek, boy who constantly play tricks. A gay family with an adopted Vietnamese girl. Despite the diversity, bizarre relationships between family members, and everyone’s selfishness, the three families always care and help each other out. It’s all about love, responsibility, trust, sacrifice, and happiness.
Flipped is a popular novel and movie for teenagers. It’s about a sweet “not-love” story between a boy named Bryce and a girl named Julianna. Their story starts at the age of eight and ends, well, who knows when if you write the sequel yourself!
Afterreceiving the Nobel prize for studying perpetual motions, I could only sit in my rocking chair, recall the memories, and listen to my grandson complaining about the school and girls. Just as what my granddad did when he was my age. I knew how I felt for Juliana Baker was the same way my granddad felt for my grandma. I understood “every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.” However, my granddad lived with his rainbow but I didn’t. The time we spent together had become memories and a pity. I spent every day searching out of windows and recalling the days I spent with Julianna Baker—the poor neighbor, the disgusting stalkers, the one who told me to be a person more than those blue dazzling eyes, the one who made me flipped, and the one who changed my life.
After the basket boys’ dinner, I tried my best to talk and please Juli. She, however, either ignored me or escaped from me. I knew the reason exactly, but knowing that I couldn’t make up for it really made me furious with myself.
Finally one day, my chance for winning Juli back came. Mom took me to plants market to buy some rose seeds. Various flowers and leaves seemed no difference to me, so all I could think about was Juli. Abruptly, a seedling that was dreadfully familiar to me appeared in my sight. Without thinking, I could tell from the shape of leaves and the texture of trunk that it was a sycamore tree.
Wait! The sycamore tree. The entire world for Juli. That’s something she would be pleased to see. I asked Mom for money to buy snacks, but ran immediately away to buy the seedling.
As soon as I arrived at Collier Street, I hold the seedling tightly and rushed to the Baker’s house. Luckily, Mr. Baker opened the door for me and permitted me to plant the tree in their yard.
Planting a tree was biting off more than I can chew, but it was worthy suffering for Juli. According to what Mr.Baker said, I dug a hole to fit the root and put the seedling in it. While I was filling the hole with earth, I noticed that Juli was watching me through the French window in living room. I nodded at her as if to tell her not to worry about her yard and that I had changed quite a lot. It was a shame that she didn’t mean to help planting the tree, but I could decipher that she was astonished and excited.
When everything—filling the hole and watering the seedling—was done, I went home with a huge release and a sense of wonder.
The wonder has gone by the time I got home and waved to her through the window. She was standing in her room, looking at me through her window. Surprisingly, She waved back. The curve her hands looked like a picture of Michelangelo. I never truly understood its beauty but it just impressed me. For the first time since I met Juli, I realized that we never really talked or became friends. Nevertheless, everything would change tomorrow as we started to be true best friends.
When I got up, I felt like having a new birth. The sunshine was just right to fall on my bed and the sky was just right to look like
her eyes. I rummaged through my closet to find the most good-looking suit and jeans. I don’t want to look too old and rigid nor too young and immature. I matched clothes for half an hour and finally decided to wear my basket boy suit.
When I got to the dining table, I found my family talking about the move of the Bakers. “Morning Bryce, what a pity that you missed the goodbye of the Bakers.” Mom uttered as she handed me my plate. “What’s going on? Why they left? The relationship between us was just about to start!” I blurt out immediately. “Well, obviously there was something not normal with Mr.Baker’s retarded brother, so they must move to a slum even cheaper than their current dump to pay for the extra treatments for him” Dad said with unconcerned and derisive tone as usual.
I had so much to grumble and shout, but I said nothing. I had so much to feel, but I felt nothing. I lost her again or I never really had her. We kept passing by each other and kept looking back to seek each other. Why we couldn’t stop our steps to hold each other’s hands? Maybe, the only thing to reduce my pain was to improve myself and make her be proud of me in the future.
If I could go back in time, I wish I could meet her in the proper light.
Downton Abbey in Vanderbilt—Writing Studio
by Irene Liu
Writing Studio is where we revise papers. It is located on the end of Edgehill Avenue, like an ancient castle. There’s a large courtyard in front of the door and a stone stair in front of the yard.
It is not yet the season-changing time, but falling maple leaves—with mixed color of yellow, orange, and red—pile on the dark ivory steps, scatter on scarlet wooden benches, sweep across brown marble floor. Those leaves, like my yearning for hometown Beijing, China where golden ginkgo leaves would bury me in autumn, is everywhere on campus. The boundary between autumn and winter in Beijing is so clear when municipal heating supply arrives. I don’t see the boundary in Nashville, as temperature can change from 20 ℃ to 7 ℃ in two days and bounce back several days latter. Every time I see sunshine falls in that yard, I wonder if the sun also visits Beijing and brings my longing to my family. I wonder whether my little sister still covers her nose when she wanders through the street full of smelly ginkgo fruits. I wonder whether my grandpa still gets up at 5am and runs around the park near my home. I wonder whether my mom is still energetic about working out and shopping. I wonder whether my dad is still unsatisfied with his stable job.
Writing studio is a place for love to grow.
Every time I enter writing studio, I feel like entering an old novel—Wuthering Heights, Mansfield Park, or Northanger Abbey. No matter which mansion it is, various fantastic stories are generated and profound thoughts are provoked by brilliant souls inside. I talk with tutors about Antony and Cleopatra and understand Cleopatra’s typical characteristics described by Aristotle and Wordsworth—her prototype comes from real life, her sophisticated personalities are open to interpretation, her villain are rooted in human nature. I talk with tutors about Wuthering Heights and find out the subversive power Nelly, the servant, has in the novel. She controls the narration and characterization by telling stories to the primary narrator Lockwood; she injects her merits and value to two Catherines and Hareton when raising them up.
Writing studio is a place for ideas to grow.
Every time I leave writing studio, I stand against the door and stare through the yard at the car road. Are there couples cuddling on the bench like every literary comedy ends? Are there lost souls like me who wish to leave their footprints on this place.
As I walk down the steps, everything goes back to routine. Cars move slowly on the road; people trot on the pedestrian with phones in their hands. I tighten my jacket and head towards the next class.