Goodbye 2016.

Hello lovelies!

I started this blog and kind of abandoned it once I started going to school and working again. However, a lot has changed since I posted almost a year ago!

I started my second year of college, got a job, turned 20, lived on campus for a year, leased a car, paid off my car, quit my job, made new friends, went further into my major, etc. It’s been an INSANE year, and honestly it has kind of sucked. This has probably been my worst reading year to date, my job basically sucked the life out of me (a whole other story), I barely had time to spend time with my friends, and I am moving terrifyingly fast through college. I’ve never really had a bad year before, so I consider myself lucky. I also know that I am not alone and that many people think that 2016 has been the absolute worst.

However, it’s also been a great year in many respects! I did a lot of personal professional development, I was accepted into my school’s Educator Preparatory Program, I wrote a paper about gaming in education that I am very proud of, I made a lot of new education major friends, I quit the job that I hate, and I took an incredible Global Literature and Drama class. My professor BLEW MY MIND.

That being said, I did not take a lot of time to do things that I really love to do (outside of my school work). I used to write, sing, act, do technical theatre, and read all of the time. Now I barely get time to read. I started this blog because I wanted a place to write and express myself. However, I kind of lost track of my goal by making this blog mainly about my school work. I think this is the reason I never really kept up with it.

I want to take part in the “Great Conversation”! I want to write about nerdy things, big ideas, my thoughts on life, my thoughts on education, my experience in my college classes, books, and all of my other passions! I have all of these things to say and nowhere else to express them.

So, what better time would there be to revamp this blog than the new year?

This year I plan to:

  • Read 40 books.
  • Create.
  • Try new things.
  • Get back into technical theatre.
  • Write something at least once a week.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  • Give my best effort in field base.
  • Maintain a 3.5 GPA.
  • Go out with my friends more.
  • Be kind to myself and generous to those around me.

These are very different goals from my previous ones for 2016, but I think that I need that sort of change! I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive. That means creating and doing things that I’m passionate about.

All in all, I’m sorry that I sort of abandoned this project early on. However, it is a new year and a new me! I plan to dedicate myself to creation, not just consumption. That plan starts here.

I hope all of you have had a great 2016. If not, then “I hope you have the courage to start all over again”. If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s the fact that it’s never too late to change things up and make life better.

Best Wishes,

Rachael ❤

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Book Haul.

Hello Lovelies!

I was lucky enough to receive/buy a TON of books this holiday season. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump since I started University. Something about reading a book a week for my literature classes got me burnt out. YET, I will trudge on and conquer my reading slump once and for all! So, what gets me excited for reading? A book haul. Thus, why I am sharing my newest buys with you today. This might be a bit of a long post so let’s just jump in!

  • The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller & The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

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First, we have Batman! In the interest of complete honesty, I have never read an actual comic. Ever. It’s not because I’m not interested, but because my big brother refused to properly educate me. So now I have to bring myself up to speed. I bought Dark Knight Returns because it has the interesting premise of Batman fighting against Superman. If it explores power imbalances and moral ambiguity, then I’m sold! Then, I bought The Killing Joke because it sets up Batman and The Joker as foils really nicely. It questions whether batman could have gone down the wrong path as The Joker and why he didn’t. I’m SO excited to read these! (prepare yourself to read that a lot during this post)

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

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HOW GREAT WAS STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS?! Oh, it had everything a fangirl could possibly want. It had good vs evil, a rag tag group of rebel underdogs, a wonderfully evil villain, a blossoming romance, the old characters you love, stunning visuals, AND MORE. The only downside? You don’t know their personal thoughts. I want to know everything going through the heads of these characters during every scene. It is also said that some questions are answered in the novel that aren’t in the movie. Hopefully we get more information on Maz Katana, aka my favorite new character. I’m SO PUMPED to read this. I literally CANNOT wait. 

  • Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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I actually know very little about this book and I’m going to try and keep it that way. Apparently it’s about a dystopian society where the US and England have to merge, become a new society called The Tearling, and migrate to this newly discovered continent. They revert to the government of Kings and Queens, leading us to our main character’s story. Kelsea is heir to the throne and is destined to take the crown at 19. Before then, her mother is killed and she is sent away until she is ready to assume the throne. The time comes and there are a ton of assassins trying to kill her, the government has become totally corrupt, and she has to earn her crown. I’m interested in this because people say the political intrigue and world building is really great. Plus, there is no romance line…truly shocking.

  • Falling Kingdoms by Mogan Rhodes

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Again, I don’t know a ton about this series. From what I understand it follows the perspectives of four people from three different kingdoms. To quote this beautiful summary: “As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.”

I mean, come on! How can you not want to read this?! I’m hooked already.

  • Reboot by Amy Tintera

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I’m apparently really feeling the dystopian genre this season. Reboot is about a world where when people die they come back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. How cool is that underlying premise? More perfect=less human. I love it already. The story follows Wren, one of the deadliest reboots, while she trains Callum who is still practically a human. While she views him as dead weight most of the time, there is something in him that she can’t ignore. As the summaries say “the perfect soldier is done taking orders”. HECK YEAH.

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Alright, I admit it. I bought this for the 80’s pop culture references. Really. This book follows Wade Watts, a poor boy from a small family. The only time he really “lives” is when he is in the virtual utopia, OASIS. One of the game owners is about to die and he has left an easter egg for the players to find. First one to find it earns the title of co-owner and a small fortune(240 billion dollars). Wade, and every other player, dedicates his life to solving the puzzles hidden in the game. Many of these challenges are based on, yes you guessed it, 80’s pop culture references. It seems pretty simple. Yet the closer he gets to winning, the more he realizes just how far other players are willing to go to win. We join Wade as he struggles to solve the clues and simply survive. I can already tell that this book will make my nerdy heart sing~ 

  • The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

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I heard of this book from my fav, John Green. He talked about how much this book inspired George Lucas while writing Star Wars. Moving on to related literature is the most natural progression in my obsessive Star Wars research. This book is about the hero’s journey, what it consists of, why we like it, and how it has shaped our culture. It’s guaranteed to make me geek out. Literary theory that inspired one of my favorite science fiction stories? Yes, please. 

  • What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

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I have been waiting for so long to get my hands on this! I kept forgetting about it and coming back, but I finally have it. This book is all about how the brain constructs the stories we read. It’s the brain science behind imagination. AMAZING.That’s really all I have to say about it because I don’t know much else about it. I think that sums it up pretty well! 

  • Every Day by David Levithan

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This book is about a person who wakes up every day in a new person’s body. Brilliant premise. This person knows no other life than this and has just come to accept it. The person wakes up, figures out who he/she is today, tries to cause as little anomalies as possible, and moves on. That is until the person doesn’t. The person falls in love with a girl and impulsively decides to act of his/her own accord for once. Will this person get a chance at a real life? I’ll have to read it to find out! AHH! I honestly have no idea how this will turn out and it’s so exciting! I mean how do you escape that life? Wow, I’m so ready to read this! 

  • Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

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I have actually read this already! I cannot pass up a Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel. This story follows Katie, a fiery chef who is in the process of building a new restaurant. After a series of truly unfortunate events, she begins to wish she could have a do-over button. It’s apparently her lucky day because she is given the opportunity to erase her mistakes by writing them down, eating a magic mushroom, and going to sleep. In that order. But will a perfect life be all that it’s cracked up to be? This novel has so many cool supernatural aspects that I will leave for you to be surprised by. This is such an insightful novel and actually gets pretty dark at some points. I absolutely adored it. The art was STUNNING and I found myself constantly wanting to live in her world. Katie is extremely relatable. Even in the we are all selfish, overly ambitious, and kinda self-absorbed way. Just me? Well she’s also relatable in the human, ultimately good, funny, and spunky way. My verdict: a treat to read, go pick it up!

  • In Real Life by Jen Wang

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I’M SO EXCITED TO READ THIS. It’s about a shy, introverted girl named Anda. She loves to play on a MMORPG and take on an alter ego. She loves that she can become a leader, fighter, and hero in this online world. Things become a bit more complicated when she befriends a goldfarmer, a poor Chinese kid in real life. This person’s avatar illegally collects and sells valuable objects to other players. This is explicitly stated to be illegal in the game. However, “Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.” What a great twist, right?! I think this will be a very interesting read about our daily decisions and how they affect others. I’m eagerly anticipating this graphic novel in the mail! 

  • To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story by Casey Sciezka and Steven Weinberg

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Last, but certainly not least, To Timbuktu! This is about Casey and Steven, two recent college grads who are teaching English abroad. They meet in Morocco, fall in love, and travel the world together. This is their story in words and pictures. I’m very intrigued by this graphic novel. Mostly because I would like to teach English abroad at some point. Apparently a considerable amount of this book is about their teaching experiences. Needless to say, I am stoked! 

Whew! That was a long one, sorry about that guys! I am so incredibly excited about these books. Hopefully you found a book that you might want to pick up as well! I had a lot of fun writing this one and kudos to you if you are actually still reading at this point. (: Please feel free to give me some book recommendations or comment if you’ve enjoyed any of the ones I’ve mentioned! Maybe next post I will write a book review/discussion…hmm.

Until then!

Rachael ❤

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2016 Resolutions.

Hello lovelies! I’m back!

First, some housekeeping: I apologize for not updating recently, but I was spending time away with my family. I plan to return to my regular schedule as of now!

Today I want to spend some time talking about New Years Resolutions. I have to admit that I was actively avoiding this topic. 2015 was a year of ups and downs for me. The first half was awesome: I became the youngest workshop presenter at Richland, graduated, traveled to Europe, moved out, completed my first semester of university, and got three job interviews for the new year! However, the transition to college was a little rougher than I thought it would be. I began to feel loneliness, homesickness, and self-doubt. These were all relatively new to me and hard to deal with. I can’t even really say that I’ve overcome them all. However, I realize that this is a totally normal experience. I also had a pretty great time at college most of the time! I made some amazing friends and took some incredible classes. Anyways, I’m rambling.

The mantra of this year will be: If you don’t like it, change it! I’m done being unsatisfied with life and always looking for some glorious, unknowable future. I want to be happy with my life now and that means taking some steps to change it.

So, without further ado, here are my New Years Goals/Resolutions:

  1. Love myself.
    • I need to learn to love myself for who I am and stop regretting what I have/haven’t done. I need to stop being so hard on myself this year.
  2. Get 1-2 on campus job(s).
    • I am on my way to this! I have applied to the IO, mail services, ResLife, and shuttle services. This will help pay for my growing debt and future car.
  3. Get a summer job.
    • so I can continue to save money! I would prefer to work at Barnes and Noble, but whatever I can get really!
  4. Buy a car!
    • I desperately need a car in the fall so that I can get to my observations without paying for uber or adjusting to other people’s schedules.
  5. Keep my GPA above 3.0/improve it.
    • I did okay this semester, but I know that I can do better! I hear that having a job helps you with your academics, so hopefully that’s true! I just want to improve my GPA and do my best.
  6. Read at least 30 books.
    • I love reading and bought a ton of books over the last year. I have been way more busy than I thought so I haven’t read nearly as much as I’d like to. So, I plan to shrink my TBR significantly.
  7. Spend more time investing in my relationships.
    • I did not prioritize relationships during the past semester and came to regret it. I made a few great friends, but I still felt pretty lonely. I didn’t make a real effort to branch out or anything. So I plan to make more friends and spend more time with them this semester!
  8. Get more involved on campus.
    • I got involved with international tutoring and thread, but that’s about it! I even dropped thread halfway through. I plan to get back into thread and become more involved in volunteering on campus.
  9. No more soda or american line in the caf.
    • I know soda is bad for you and most of the time I don’t even want it. I only eat in the american line because I don’t like anything else in the caf that day. I plan to cut out soda completely and take my meal plan down to 2 meals a day. This way I can spend money on healthier options that I like from the store. (:
  10. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
    • While walking around campus is a workout in itself, I need to exercise more. I plan to hike up and down the hill on my campus for about 30 minutes per day. It shouldn’t be that hard or time consuming and it will keep me active.

So there you have it! My New Years Resolutions. I plan to keep them all, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I think they are just a fun and healthy way to assess my life.

A fun NYs challenge is to write down all of the things that make you happy and all of the things you do daily. Then adjust accordingly!

I think I will do a book haul/ book review post next time! We will see. (:

Until then!

Rachael ❤

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Is Idealism Crazy?

This weekend I went to see the new Star Wars movie and OH MY GOD IT’S SO GOOD *Cue waffling*. Without giving too much away, there was a scene in which Kylo Ren, the villain, was offered a chance at redemption. Ren seemed to accept this chance, but he commits a truly unforgivable sin, BREAKS MY HEART, and ends up falling further to the Dark Side. Afterwards, I confessed to my family that I did NOT see it coming at all. My whole family told me that they saw his trick coming and that the plot point was obvious to them. I initially chalked my mistake up to my gullible nature. Then, I started to think deeper about why I believed Kylo Ren when all of the signs pointed to his evil intentions. I realized that I didn’t believe him because I was gullible, but because I was idealistic.

Today, idealism is seen as a weakness. It’s new definition reads: unable to deal with reality, delusional. Idealists are usually viewed as those whose heads are constantly “stuck in the clouds”.If we go textbook, it’s definition is: “the act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal, often impractical, form and pursuing those ideals” (“Free Dictionary”). Is this a true definition of idealism? I would say no.

My personal definition is: the practice of seeing the “real” world as it could be and trying to make the ideal world a reality.

Now that we have a working definition, the question becomes: is idealism a good thing?

I can remember instances where idealism was twisted and became a bad thing (i.e the KKK, the holocaust, slavery, vigilante serial killers, etc). I can also see how idealism is unrealistic at times. This usually occurs when people expect rome to build itself in a day. However, I don’t think idealism is a bad thing when utilized correctly. Ideally(heh), Idealism is refusing to accept the world as it is and working towards it’s improvement.Idealism is not ignoring how the world truly is or having large dreams while doing nothing. It’s seeing, and bringing out, the best in people even when they don’t see it in themselves. It is believing in the good that exists in this world and increasing it. It means allowing people to be human and giving second chances. It means becoming a living, breathing example of compassion and forgiveness. It means looking beyond present circumstances, seeing how things could be, and bringing it about by living as an example.

I don’t think that we should stop working towards an ideal world simply because we don’t live in it yet. If we did this then there would be no more medical advances, no more scientific discoveries, no more humanitarians, and eventually no force of good left in this world. Honestly, I don’t ever want to live in a world full of “realists” who can only see twenty feet in front of them. I want to live with the dreamers who make the world better. I want to live in a world where Kylo Ren is redeemed. Where Han doesn’t shoot first. Where Vader doesn’t even have the chance to be formed. I want to live in a world where the good beats out the evil in each of us. I realize that it is unrealistic to expect for this to happen all of the time. However, I don’t think it is bad to work towards it and encourage others to do the same. In the words of John Green, “The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy”. 

Idealism is not crazy or bad. It’s working towards the improvement of ourselves, the broken world we live in, and the broken people we live with.

So here’s to the idealists who keep us moving forward. Keep improving, keep hoping, and keep bringing out the best in us.

May the Force be with you. >:)

Rachael ❤

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It’s A Study in Life…Really.

I would like you to take a minute to read this quote by John Green about education: tumblr_m5haz7WEGU1r53on2o1_1280.jpg

This quote was taken from an episode of CrashCourse, an educational web show that the Vlogbrothers host. When I heard this quote for the first time I knew that my view of education had been changed forever. I realized that education should be about molding students into thoughtful, considerate, and innovative people that move humanity forward. Education should not be memorizing facts, “just trying to pass”, or something to be dreaded. These were revolutionary discoveries for me and gave me the final push I needed to commit to an education major. I knew that I loved investing in people, literature, and making a difference in the world. I just didn’t see how all of those things came together until I saw this quote. Soon after, I decided that when I had my own classroom I would make sure that my students learned something valuable and applicable every single day. Thankfully, literature is a subject that both improves and reflects humanity. What’s more valuable than that? I would like to take a minute and share why I love English education and why I believe it will save us.

1. Literature reflects life

Literature is, essentially, a mirror. It allows us to see the best and worst of humanity. We see our reality in memoirs, exposes, historical non-fiction, and essays. We see our fears in dystopian novels, horror stories, and thrillers. We see our failures in satire. We see our ideals in superhero comics, crime/detective fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. We see our life lessons in fairy tales, fables, mythology, and folklore. Humanity has recorded what we know, our dreams, our failures, our beliefs, our lessons, and our reality in writing beginning in 3200 BC. It’s incredible that we have this in depth picture of humanity at our disposal. It allows us to put our life in that “broader context” that John was talking about above. It teaches us that we were not the first ones here, nor will we be the last. It shows us that we have a lot that we can learn from those who came before us and we can teach those who come after us. Literature shows us that we all have a verse to contribute in the play of life.

2. Literature promotes critical thinking

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Literature asks us to think deeply about what is going on in the stories. When you read The Hunger Games, you don’t think “oh, cool story”. You’re automatically urged to ask “how close is this to our society?” and “what would I do if I were in that situation?”. Literature requires us to think critically about our world, our decisions, and our very being. Literature requires us to think critically and innovatively simply because it asks us hard questions that we might not think about otherwise.

3. Literature helps us empathize with others

I believe that reading is directly linked to our ability to empathize with others. Reading is always a practice in empathy. Whenever you read you are putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and walking around in them. It is the closest thing, that humans are capable of, to knowing what it’s like to be someone else. This is an essential skill to living life on this earth because, like it or not, you will always have to interact with people. Even if you only meet your delivery guy at the door when he’s giving you pizza, you’re still interacting with someone. In reality, you will deal with way more people than that. You will need to maintain relationships at home, at work or school, and everywhere else! The truth is that people need people and literature allows us to connect with each other in a deeper and more meaningful way. Literature assures us that other people live life with the same amount of vibrancy and complexity that we do. This means that we are now responsible for how we act towards other people. It means that I am now responsible for yelling at the guy who cut me off in traffic. It means that I am now responsible for the child in poverty on the other side of the world. I am responsible because I now know what that person is going through. The cover of ignorance that I like to hide behind is taken off. When that cover is finally taken off, the world starts to change. Usually for the better.

4. Literature teaches us about other things!

Literature also integrates other subjects like philosophy, art, history, etc. They can’t really be separated! You can’t have the story of Jekyll and Hyde without the idea of moral dualism. You can’t have TKAM without the history of racism in the United States. You can’t have Moby Dick without the incredible amount of whale pictures. (; You get the point. Literature is, again, a reflection of humanity. Therefore, it includes all of the things that humans think and worry about! Literature covers a much larger spectrum of subjects than people give it credit for.

5. Literature allows us to join in on the “Great Conversation”

The “Great Conversation” is the discussion of age-old questions that we still can’t find a definitive answer to. Literature allows us to join in on this discussion by encouraging us to think deeper and harder about the complexities of life. It brings up the hard questions that we often try to avoid. Questions like what does it mean to be human? What will happen when I die? What will happen to those who are less fortunate? How do I deal with the injustice that is built in to the world I live in?  What should I do with my life? Does my life matter? Literature makes you come face to face with questions that are not easily dealt with and are not easily answered. However, they are questions that most of us will wrestle with and try to find our own answers to. This is where we come in to the conversation. You see, reading is always a conversation between the author and the reader. The author writes the story on paper and the reader creates their version of the story in their heads. The reader creates their version by drawing on their past experiences, beliefs, and values. So when authors pose these age-old questions to us, we automatically respond with our own opinions. Thus, we have officially joined the greatest conversation on earth.

Literature is an extremely important and relevant subject for every single human on earth. I truly believe that it makes us all better people and more willing to help others. I am so incredibly excited to teach my students something that is relatable and valuable. ❤ I would love to hear from other teachers about why they love their subjects!

Best Wishes,

Rachael ❤

Side note: As far as daily life is concerned, I have a job interview! I have applied for a job working with my school’s international office! I’m really excited about it because I have loved tutoring international students this semester. Wish me luck!

 

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Beginnings

Hello lovelies!

As promised in my about page, I will begin by telling you the tale of my first semester of university.

I took my first education course this semester and I can honestly say that I loved every second of it.This was largely due to my amazing professor who made every single lesson valuable and engaging. After finishing the class I felt so affirmed in my choice of major. Although it was extremely annoying to have a professionalism grade every MWF at 8am. I now know that this hell will giphyactually last the rest of my life. That means looking presentable, being fully prepared, and energized before God wakes up. Jesus take the classroom, am I right? I think the hardest lesson that I learned all semester was that this is not the time to try to kick my caffeine habit. Trust me. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Other than that minor setback, I loved the class. My professor emphasized amazing topics like what truly makes an effective teacher, our jobs outside of the classroom, tips on how to handle the inevitable burnout, and her favorite teacher movies. I learned a ton over the semester(which I promise to talk about in detail on a later date)  and I even taught my first lesson!

My first lesson was almost a complete disaster. I was assigned to teach about rhythm in poetry on the third or fifth grade level. After ignoring my anxiety until I literally couldn’t take it anymore, I finally started planning my lesson. It was then that I realized I knew little to nothing about rhythm in poetry. In fact, I had to teach myself the third grade material. Incredible. Eventually, I learned what poetical feet were and how to read stressed/unstressed syllables. I decided to use the poem “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to teach the entire lesson. I thought I was going to be so cute with my Christmas themed Prezi and candy cane rewards. Plus, come on, who doesn’t love Dr. Suess? So I created the lesson, turned in my official lesson plan, and then left it. I literally didn’t touch it again until I started to review the night before my presentation. Only then did it come to my attention that this poem only had one type of rhythm in it and I had to teach at least three different types. I literally had to change my entire lesson the 200-1.gifnight before. Cue the panic attack. I ended up freaking out for about thirty minutes until the time on my clock slapped me back into reality. Eventually, I managed to pull myself together and decided on a full on Dr. Suess theme. So instead of using  just one 200.gifpoem, I used four different ones. I conjured up a beautiful Prezi, a masterful anticipatory set, and delicious candy canes with about four hours to spare for sleep. In the end, it went really well! My lowest grade on my class critique was a 95 and I didn’t even sound nervous! Most importantly, I loved actually teaching the lesson and seeing all of the students enjoy learning for a change. Overall, this class was an incredible introduction to the profession. If you have any specific questions or want me to write on a certain topic please leave a comment!

I also took two literature classes this semester: World Literature I and American Literature I. These classes covered a wide range of literature from the earliest forms of writing to about the 1850s. I plan to post a more in depth review of the texts we read later on. These gifs are the purest embodiment of my emotions during these classes-

When I got my list of books at the beginning of the year:

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When I read all of the beautiful classic literature:

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Before class when I forgot to do the reading:

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Pretending like I know what people are talking about when I didn’t read:

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When I’m reading a particularly boring book:

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After a particularly rough night of studying:

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When I run into my professor outside of class:

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That about sums up my entire semester!  I only have about four days of finals left until I am officially home for the holidays! ❤  I am so excited to see my family, eat food that didn’t come from the school cafeteria, and work on some content for you guys!

Until then!

Rachael ❤

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