Friday, February 28, 2014

Image of Ukraine

A friend of mine recently posted an article discussing the conflict in Ukraine, and the article included a photo that really struck me. This photo is a panorama of Kiev's Independence Square. It shows half of the Square as it looked before the conflict erupted, and half of the Square as it currently looks, taken during the violence.

Of course, I was somewhat aware of the issues occurring in Ukraine before seeing this photo. I'd heard all about the various conflicts occurring between political figures, countries, citizens, etc. on the news and on the radio (if you're not up to date on what's going on in Ukraine, check out this CNN article). But somehow, the gravity of the situation and its actual effects on the country, its landscape and its people did not hit me until I saw this photo. It's easy to hear about a conflict and only hear the big details regarding what's happening between governments. It's also easy to hear the numbers of people being killed daily and to instantly forget about it; in a way, we have become desensitized to death and its numbers.

But this photo directly shows the effects that the violence and conflict have had on Ukraine. A clean and shiny Independence Square was torn down and turned into a dark and explosive battleground. I can't help but imagine the people that used to leisurely wander around this Square with family and friends. I wonder what has happened to those people, or to their family and friends, and how this explosive violence has affected them. This photo opened my eyes to the reality of the conflict in Ukraine. An image can demonstrate a conflict in ways that words in radio and news stories cannot.

If you're interested in viewing some more striking images of the conflict in Ukraine, click this link.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Barcelona: A New Angle

My mother was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. Spanish was my first language (well, learned simultaneously with English, that is), and my Spanish culture has been one of the most important parts of my life since I was a child. I travel there frequently (twice a year), and I know the city quite well. I've seen all of the photos on post cards in gift shops of your typical tourist stops: la Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, the Mediterranean Sea, etc. In some ways, knowing Barcelona so well and seeing the same old photos of the city has made me lose my appreciation for it.

But earlier today, I was browsing a subreddit where people upload cool photos of cities that they visit when I stumbled upon a photo of Barcelona. I stared at it for several minutes, analyzing the once familiar streets that, in this photo, looked completely foreign to me. This photo was taken from above.

I was completely mesmerized. I immediately recognized the Sagrada Familia located towards the left of the image, but...did the streets always line up so straight? Had the buildings always been standing in those formations? I couldn't help but feel embarrassed at the fact that I'd visited a large number of these buildings and had never noticed the way that they all line up. This image presented me with a whole new city. A new angle can bring about a whole new appreciation for something you thought you knew quite well.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Love and Valentine's Day

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd write a post dedicated to the special day. Not because I feel the need to bash the holiday itself (because who doesn't love getting chocolate and silly cards all day?), but because I've recently become disillusioned with the image of love that has been presented to me since I was little. As an eighteen year old girl who loves watching Romantic Comedies and listening to friends rant about boys, I can tell you all about young people's distorted image of love. We've seen picture perfect relationships on screens frequently for our entire lives and have grown to expect relationships just like those.

From the first movies we watched, movies about Disney princesses and their prince charmings, to the movies we watch today about complicated and intense relationships, we have built up in our minds what we believe we want and need in a significant other. It seems that if your love isn't constantly intense, dramatic and emotional, then it can't be real. The image portrayed by the media brings hopes up too high, and people become disappointed and bored as a result. Why can't a relationship be composed of two people who are completely comfortable and content together without the melodramatic moments? We get caught up in making things exciting and end up missing potentially good things or messing up the good things that we have. In an article regarding this topic, Reid Daitzman Ph.D, a clinic psychologist, describes that, "A guy who just had an affair really misses his wife and would love to be back with her talking about trivial things.” Parts of relationships are boring, and that's okay. 

The other issue has become that media has made love the center of our lives. Magazines, movies, songs and stories make us feel as if love is the only thing that will ever truly bring us happiness. In our society, love is overemphasized. While, of course, love is good and can most definitely bring people joy, it should not be the only important part of a person's life. Women and men should not be afraid to be independent. I know too many people that feel incomplete without a boyfriend or a girlfriend or lose sight of their entire future in order to stay with their significant other. Love should be important in our lives, but we should always have our own independent goals. Women, we are not Disney princesses who should spend all of our time waiting on princes, we deserve to seek an education and a career that brings us just as much joy and fulfillment as love does. Love is great, but it cannot be everything.