The Road Ends Here: The Fall of the Big Blue Nation

 

March Madness in Kentucky has finally come to a close. A somber one at that. I had every intention of composing this post today with celebratory language and excitement, but the BBN was not so fortunate. Last night, the men of the University of Kentucky fell to the no. 7 University of Connecticut. It was a bittersweet loss, considering our university was not at all expected to go this far. Ultimately, it boils down to inexperience as our starting five are just babies…younger than me even, which seems strange with how much hype and faith we put into them as a team. It’s been a crazy month to say the least. Being ranked as a no. 8 seed in the tournament after a rocky regular season had us skeptical to say the least. When Kentucky beating Louisville, however, our eternal rivals, the streets of Lexington erupted with joy. If you hadn’t heard of our tendency to burn couches as means of celebration, I’m sure you have now. UK fans, students, Lexington residents, and those just passing through, flocked to the corners of campus (namely State Street, Limestone, and Woodland Ave.) after each game beginning with the Sweet Sixteen. ESPN and KSR have heavily covered the celebrations in Lexington that demanded heavy police presence to control the crowds. It was quite an experience each time with couches, clothing, trash, and more being burned in the streets. Thousands crowded State Street each night, intoxicated and sober, for the chance to be part of a historical celebration. Although the tournament didn’t end in our favor, I and the rest of the Big Blue Nation will still be on the lookout for our 9th National Championship title in the coming season. Next season starts today and I have nothing but faith in the boys in blue. I leave you with photos from each night I ventured out into the streets of Lexington to celebrate our victories and overwhelming love and support for the University of Kentucky. GO CATS!

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Send Sarah to Costa Rica!

I am so thrilled to announce that this summer I have officially been accepted to study in Heredia, Costa Rica! As I have explained here before, traveling isn’t cheap. Because I will be studying at La Universidad Latina this time around, I’m looking for all the support I can get! If you have the means, please consider making a donation to my trip. Your money will go towards my tuition at the university, fees for obtaining credit at my home university, traveling within the country, and my home-stay with a host family! I can’t wait to see what this experience has in store for me and it would mean the world to me if you could help me achieve my goals!

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Photo from ISA, studiesabroad.com

I have created a donation site on YouCaring.com because it is the least invasive platform that requires the fewest fees. You can visit my site to donate here! Please don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any questions! I will be narrating all of my trip and posting photos on this blog when I leave in July! Stay tuned for my travel posts! :)

https://www.youcaring.com/SarahGoestoCostaRica

With love from the library,

Sarah Alexandra

Perspectives: On Coming Home

In my first advising conference of college, the woman speaking harped about studying abroad and traveling. I’ll never forget her distinctly saying: “Unless you go somewhere, do something that makes you entirely uncomfortable in a place you’ve never been, you’ve wasted the best four years of your life.”

It’s been a week since I’ve been back in the states and everyone’s favorite question is, “How was Mexico?!” It’s bittersweet to answer this honestly. In reality, my trip was not at all what I was looking for this Spring Break. Yes, I left the country. Yes, I ate great food and spoke Spanish. Yes, I was brave and ventured out by myself for the first time. But honestly, it was pretty difficult being bombarded with my friends’ photos from the beach and cruises in the Caribbean to enjoy my week in Mexico. What I seemed to have forgotten before I left was that not everyone has Spring Break. Every life doesn’t stop moving because I’m out of school for the week. So when I arrived for the week, I expected to spend every waking moment out and about and experiencing all kinds of new things. Really, no one could take time off work nor could they show me much that I hadn’t already seen on my last trip. Sure, we visited the center in Anda Lucia and climbed up to El Mirador Obispado. Sure, we ate tons of delicious tacos and spent a night in a club in San Pedro. During the days, however, I sat in my room, napped, and watched Netflix. I was told not to go out by myself during the day, to lock the door of my room at night when I slept. I realized exactly how different life is for my friends in Monterrey. They ride multiple buses to work each day, share one car in a family, pay to park in any business’ parking lot, keep their doors locked at all times. It’s a reality that I never really faced until I spent so much time alone, until I was looked at truly as an out-of-place foreigner. In a book I recently read for class, a young Chicana girl was asked about the differences between Mexico and her Texas home in the United States. She explained that “everything’s straight” here in the US — and she’s right. Until you go somewhere that truly challenges what you’ve always known, you’ll never really appreciate what you have in the place you call home. So, in some sense, I guess I did get something out of this trip — even though it wasn’t the tan skin and wild adventures I envisioned. I have never appreciated more the ability to walk by myself in the street, to drive my own car, to blend in when I want to.

With love from the University of Kentucky,

Sarah Alexandra

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Kappa Delta Crafting

Sooo, I don’t have a little just yet, but you could say I’m already excited to craft for her. These a just a few of the things I made this afternoon. I tried to imitate the Kappa Delta Lilly Pulitzer print for the first time, and I don’t think it turned out too badly! The large canvas is for our pledge educator this semester and I’m going to have all of my pledge sisters sign the back! The smaller canvas is for my future big that I will have VERY soon :) and the others were just for fun! If you’re interested in ordering a custom canvas or letters, leave a comment!

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Monterrey Days

 

I finally got to a computer! This post is going to be brief, but I just wanted to give a quick update of my travels! Honestly, getting to Mexico this time was quite the adventure. I almost spent the night camped out in the Houston airport after storms kept my flight grounded. At almost 10pm, I miraculously got switched to another flight (after getting a meal credit from the airline!) and finally got to cross the border. When I arrived, my ride was nowhere in sight nor could I find my luggage. Unfortunately, the friends I am staying with told me that they were not able to get off work like they had planned to take me out during the day. Thus, I have been stranded at home during the day and will only be going out at night. It isn’t ideal, at least I made it here on my first solo trip! The weather has been gorgeous so far — I like to sit outside during the day and bask in the sun and read. My friends think I’m kind of crazy for loving the sun, but on Saturday I have to head back to snow and freezing temperatures! My Spanish is improving quite a bit too, which is very comforting. I can converse well with everyone I’ve come into contact with. This week is going by really fast, but I just wanted to share a brief summary of what I’ve done so far. I’m kind of thrilled that upon arriving in Monterrey this time around, I’m starting to recognize landmarks and how to get around town. The mom in the house I am staying actually asked me if I wanted to drive when we went out. Although I’m starting to feel much more accustomed to Mexico, I don’t quite think I’m ready to drive on lineless Mexican roads! Anyways, I’m already having some delicious food — tacos, soups, beers, you name it! When the airline finally found my suitcase, three days later, I have never been so excited to see my clothes and to feel clean again! The rest of my trip details will probably come after I’m back in the states, so take care for now!

Con amor de Monterrey,

Sarah Alexandra

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Are You There, Mexico? It’s Me, Sarah

**Temporary blogging hiatus alert**

I’m going to be temporarily unavailable and under the radar in the coming week because… I’M GOING BACK TO MEXICO! Spring break is
finally here and instead of piling in SUVs and heading to PCB with all my friends, I’m making the trip back to Monterrey to visit the friends I met last summer. I’m pretty stoked for the trip, the weather report looks beautiful. While I am a little bit sad that I won’t see the ocean on this trip, I’m so excited to go back and get REAL food and see the people that changed my life forever. Gotta brush up on the Spanish a little…nothing like immersion to help you out. I’m actually being bad and blogging from my phone because I don’t even have a laptop or iPad with me! Can’t wait for the time away from technology! But for now — if you need me, I’ll be south of the border!

With love from the Bluegrass Airport!

Sarah Alexandra

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When Taylor Swift Was Right About Everything

Oh, TSwift. It seems I can’t escape you. For years now, I’ve been acting as a self-proclaimed Taylor-hater and would go as far to say that she’s what’s wrong with so many jaded teens these days. Shockingly, I’m experiencing a bit of a change of heart as of late. Maybe it’s my own coming-of-age story to accept TSwift and give into her simple, yet oddly profound songs but, upon turning 20, I can’t seem to escape her. The majority of my iPod is full of obscure bands and musicians that “really spoke to me” at one point or another in my life. In reality, it’s a collection of vague lyrics that can apply to anything I want it to and that’s why it works. But Taylor is different. She spells out the story, usually a love story, plain and clear. She even goes as far to attribute many of the songs to a specific boy, making the story that much more realistic. Maybe I can chock it all up to pure nostalgia, but something she does is just so right. Thanks Taylor, stay golden.

All the moments Taylor Swift absolutely nailed it:

“He said the way my blue eyes shined
Put those Georgia stars to shame that night
I said: “That’s a lie.” - Tim McGraw

“The only one who’s got enough of me to break my heart.”  - Tear Drops on My Guitar

“You’re beautiful
Every little piece love,
And don’t you know
You’re really gonna be someone,
Ask anyone.” - Stay Beautiful

“Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine.” - Fifteen

“Cause I’m not your princess, this ain’t a fairytale,
I’m gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well
This is a big world, that was a small town
There in my rear view mirror disappearing now.” - White Horse

“So this is me swallowing my pride,
Standing in front of you saying, “I’m sorry for that night.” - Back to December

“I am not the kind of girl
Who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion
But you are not the kind of boy
Who should be marrying the wrong girl.” - Speak Now

“Sophistication isn’t what you wear or who you know
Or pushing people down to get you where you wanna go.” - Better Than Revenge

“It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters/We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.” - 22

“Your eyes look like coming home.” - Everything Has Changed

“Don’t you dare look out your window, darling,
Everything’s on fire.” - Safe & Sound

“And you were wild and crazy
Just so frustrating intoxicating
Complicated, got away by some mistake and now,

I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain
It’s 2am and I’m cursing your name
I’m so in love that I acted insane
And that’s the way I loved you.” - The Way I Loved You

Just Another Common _________ Girl

When considering the most offensive language and discourse in our society, much of the rhetoric has origins in pejoratives. Racism is far from dead in our society, but the ways in which society addresses race have changed immensely. Although some wounds are still raw, comedians, televisions shows, music, and other media choose to make light of racial tensions by employing humor. Following my Honor course’s recent case study with social media and the age of instantaneous information reception, Twitter has become one of the spaces in which race and humor are most succinctly and blatantly intertwined. The creation of Twitter accounts such as Common White Girl, Common Black Girl, and Common Hispanic Girl have taken this network by storm, garnering 571,000, 228,000, and 57,900 followers respectively. In essence, nearly 1.4 million individuals worldwide are subscribing to accounts that specifically highlight racial stereotypes and characteristics in a humorous manner.

Having nearly 9,000 tweets between the three accounts, the “Common ___ Girl” Twitter accounts use images, hashtags, and succinct messages to gain “retweets” and “favorites” from their followers. After a closer look at the follower list for each account, it is evident that not every individual following fits the racial profile for that specific account nor do they all identify as “girls”. The question then lies in the reasoning as to why someone would follow such an account if they do not align with the account’s identifiers. Is it that racial stereotypes are proving true in our society or that humor indeed does make it possible to discuss sensitive issues in a lighthearted way?

A closer look into the content of the Twitter accounts reveal interesting themes within each feed. A survey of the ten most recent tweets from each respective account exposed a surprising absence of serious racial elements and a more generalized feed that relates to young girls in general, regardless of racial differences. After looking over the Common White Girl account, CWG tweets are most commonly about relationships with men/boys and physical appearance/weight. The tweets themselves did not contain any language that explicitly acknowledged whiteness, racial supremacy, or identifiers that would cause an individual to assume the account holder was white having not read the title. In the account’s images, all individuals pictured appear to be white and the account’s avatar is a white Disney Princess. The account does not shy away from explicit language or sexual content and implies that Ellen DeGeneres is an American hero thus dismissing traditional white stereotypes that it is impolite to use vulgar language and heterosexuality is the only acknowledged sexuality. What the account does explicitly imply is that the common white girl is fixated on male celebrities in popular culture and with obtaining a boyfriend/husband.

The Common Black Girl account, in contrast, features a wide variety of themes and images. The photos on the account reflect individuals of various races and ethnicities, including white, black, Asian, Latina etc. Furthermore, themes of tweets exceed a discussion of appearance and marital status by addressing more serious issues such as suicide, self-harm, academics, athletics, and more. The CBG account avatar is of the only African American Disney princess, Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog. Ironically enough, the Twitter header image is of Pocahontas, a Native American woman, thus immediately dismissing the notion that this account is founded on racial principles as the name implies. In general, this account does not explicitly employ stereotypes of the black community, but instead stereotypes of all teen girls.

The Common Hispanic Girl account is the only one of the three that utilizes explicit cultural stereotypes within tweets and imagery. Although Hispanic is an ethnicity rather than a race, this account uses the same strategies attempted by CWG and CBG to humorously discuss racial and ethnic tensions and stereotyped cultural practices. Common Hispanic Girl’s avatar features the late Hispanic singer/songwriter, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who was the epitome of beauty in Hispanic popular culture. The account’s Twitter header image is a collage of flags from Spanish-speaking nations. A survey of tweet content and images on the page exclusively feature individuals who appear to be of Hispanic descent. Themes of tweets appear to focus on traditional Hispanic food and curvy female body types. The rhetoric and diction of CHG tweets utilize the Spanish language and Spanglish to further emphasize stereotypes, an element absent in the other accounts. Nonetheless, the Common White, Black, and Hispanic Girl Twitter accounts represent a popular intersection of race and humor that initiates conversation in a way that relaxes tense race relations. By feeding stereotypes with such accounts, however, it remains to be seen if race relations are actually improved by such an intersection or if pejoratives and prejudices are simply reinforced within the less perceptive and media illiterate population.

Sisters Know Best: Advice from Kappa Deltas

Moving into the more serious parts of pledging, I thought it would be really important to speak to active sorority members and even alums about their experiences in their respective chapters. I reached out to some Kappa Deltas via my connections in the Her Campus Blogger Network, across my state and region, and even within my own chapter, and the following two interviews represent the best feedback I’ve gotten. Amber, shown in grey, is a member of the HCBN, and Alexa, shown in green, is my lovely pledge educator. Thanks ladies for taking the time to share such insightful information with a new member :)

What university do you attend?

Kappa Delta, Eta Upsilon at NC State

Kappa Delta, Epsilon Omega, University of Kentucky
 
When did you pledge?

2010

Fall 2012

What were your favorite and least favorite parts about the recruitment and pledging processes?

My favorite part of recruitment was bonding with my sisters and getting to know potential new members. My least favorite part of recruitment was the long hours – even though they are definitely worth it in the end.

I honestly love recruitment. I do like talking to the PNMs and getting to tell girls why I love being a KD, but the best part is the bonding that happens with your sisters. In the fall, we spend all day every day with our sisters for two weeks, and we are all working really hard to make sure our chapter succeeds. There really isn’t anything that bad I can think of on the top of my head. We did have realllllllllly long days during fall recruitment  and we didn’t get a break to eat from 6 am to like 10pm. Except bites of food someone could throw in our mouths in the 10 minutes between parties. But I still thought it was fun. The spring recruitment is a lot of fun because we get to have more relaxed meetings with the girls, so we can really get to know them.

What is your favorite part of being an active member?

I’m an alum now, but my favorite part of being an active member was knowing that the friendships I made were going to last forever. As cheesy as it sounds, I truly found my sisters in Kappa Delta and I got to do amazing, fun things with my best friends.

My favorite part of being a KD is getting to be VP-Member Education. I  am in charge of making sure everyone in our chapter is educated about KD, but I really love getting to educate our new members. I know how important it is to help the new members find their place in such a big chapter, and it is the most rewarding thing to see the new members fall in love with the best sorority ever!

What did you think about sororities before you joined? Did anything change after you did? If so, what?

I thought sororities were a good way to network and get to know people, but I had no idea that the people you meet are not only going to impact your life now, but also when you graduate from college.

The one thing that surprised me the most about joining a sorority, was how quickly KD felt like home. I immediately felt so welcomed and loved. By initiation, KD was a huge part of my life. I had made some of the best friends I’d ever had and knew that I could go to any of my sisters if I ever needed anything.

What is the best advice you have for new members?

Be yourself! Don’t be afraid to get to know everyone, including the seniors because they have the most experience and insight on how to make your experience invaluable.

GET INVOLVED! Do everything you can with your sisters. Visit the house just because. Come eat, study in the chapter room, take a break from your roommate, anything! Live in the house!! Hold a leadership position. Whether it be council, an appointed office, or a chair position, find something you are  passionate about and take charge of it! Go to sisterhood events and intramural games. Be enthusiastic about rituals! The more you put into Kappa Delta, the more you will get out of it.

What is the most difficult part of being in a sorority?

Time management, especially if you’re on exec board. It’s worth it in the end and it teaches you how to manage your time.

Time management. Especially since I am on council, I always have something to work on for KD. I also have a lot to work on for nursing school. I am always so excited about working on my KD stuff, that I put off my school work.

Final Comments about Kappa Delta?

I love Kappa Delta more than I can explain. I still talk to my little and grand little every day multiple times, even though we are in different states. I still have a KD pin on my bookbag! Being a KD doesn’t stop once you graduate, because you’ll run into people who either were KDs or knew KDs and when you do it’s awesome. In my small group at law school, there were four (including me) KDs out of the 7 girls.

I haven’t even been a member of KD for two years, and I can honestly say that it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I have the best big that always gives me the best hugs. I have the most perfect little that never fails to make me laugh. And I currently have an amazing spring pledge class that I am so excited to spend so much time with these next 6 weeks! KD has truly been a home away from home for me and has made going out of state for college an easy transition! I love everything about being a KD!

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Alexa, Kappa Delta, University of Kentucky

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Amber, Kappa Delta alum, NC State

 

Carving Spaces: Laverne Cox at the University of Kentucky

On Tuesday, February 25th, the University of Kentucky welcomed Laverne Cox to Memorial Hall. Cox is best known for her role on the Netflix original series, Orange Is The New Black, and her role as an advocate and ally for the LGBTQ community. On the show, Cox plays a trans woman, just as she is in real life. The show in and of itself has provoked controversy and criticism for its frankness in dealing with themes of sexuality, gender, and race, particularly associated with the United States prison system. Having Cox present at a southern university, speaking out about trans activism and acceptance, is groundbreaking nonetheless. Her presentation, “Ain’t I a Woman?” drew from Sojourner Truth’s historical rhetoric regarding gender performativity. Cox’s narration of her life beginning in early childhood and moving through her surgical transition brought insight to the University of Kentucky campus that is rarely shared. While she is an actress, Cox’s presence in Memorial Hall was evident and she commanded a packed house. Because the event was non-ticketed, free, and poorly publicized, I feared for what kind of turn out this event would bring. To my surprise and elation, the Hall was filled with love and support for the actress and the audience members were filled with questions for the speaker.

Some of the most notable moments of the presentation came from the frankness Cox expressed when she explained her life, her hardships, and her successes. She began,  “Being an African American, working class, transgender woman isn’t exactly a celebrated class.” Putting her story in context was probably difficult for many of the event patrons because very few individuals fall into such a class. Still, Cox’s eloquence in speech put an unfamiliar audience at ease. Cox explained her story by frequently referencing the time before she was a “gender nonconforming college student”, a concept which many students, even GWS majors such as myself, struggle with immensely. She continued with an important dialogue that was first specific to her story, and then was generalized to encompass all individuals. Regardless of who is involved, Cox explained, that “we can choose not to police people”. She continued by saying “oppressed people oppress people” and that community insiders belittle other community insiders despite shared alliances or allegiances.  One of the final remarks of the all-too-short program, Cox simply stated, “Maybe if we get to know people as people, maybe all those misconceptions would just fade away.” It’s something to think about, no matter what battle you’re fighting.

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