FACEBOOK PSA*

There are people following you on Facebook that you are not aware of.

One of my roommates made me, and my other roommate aware of this at dinner this evening.  Doubting her, I got on and checked.  And guys, there were 32 people following me.  When my boyfriend checked, he had 31 people following him.  And both of my roommates had people following them.  These were people we had not approved.  We had no idea who they were, where they were from, or how they had found our pages.

All of my information is set to “Private” or to “Friends” only.

Now, I don’t post private information, such as my email address, phone number, or street address online.  Where I attend school and the places I work are visible to only the people I allow to be my friends, and I’m constantly updating that information.  However, it is still terrifying to me that people from all over the world can see my posts, even if my settings are set to “Private”.  Simply by following my Facebook page, they are now privy to what I post, even if I haven’t been notified they wanted to be my friend.

Doesn’t that terrify you??

Here is how to check your own page.  (This is shown on a desktop).

1. Go to your “Settings” at the top of the menu bar

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2. On the “Settings page, on the left hand side, click on “Blocking”.

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3.  Under the section labeled “Block Users”, type in “Following me”.

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4.  One by one, block each person that shows up.

5.  Make sure to check all privacy settings, including your “Public Posts”, making sure only those you allow can see what you post.  (The “Public Posts” section is located just a bit under the “Blocking” section — see step 1.)  Note:  My settings were set to “Friends Only”, but people were still able to follow me.

I am actually really unnerved that I can’t control who follows my Facebook page, apart from checking every few weeks.  What good do privacy settings do, if complete strangers can still find my *private* page, follow me, and then see everything I post?

Hey, Facebook, this needs to be addressed.

Please be careful and safe guys, and make sure your security settings are secure.

Ciao for now,

Julia

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Student Loans, or Right to Vote? (Survey)

Hey guys!

Recently, I came across an interesting article on my Facebook page, titled “Fifty percent of Millennials would give up their right to vote to get student loans erased.”. That caught my attention, and I was curious as to how my peers would react.

I’m interested in turning this into a blog post, so I’m collecting some responses.  If you’re a college student, or have loans still from when you were in college, I’d love to hear from you!!

Thanks 🙂

Student Loans, or Right to Vote?

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Collection of Beautiful Things VI

I’m beginning to get the hang of this whole “living on campus” thing.  It was a doozy there for a bit; but I’ve settled into this new time in my life.  And if I’m being really honest, I like this new sense of determination I have, and this new drive to become a true functioning adult.

The first couple of weeks have been crazy stressful. An updated transcript was never sent to this school, so a large portion of my credits didn’t transfer.  (That was fun, but totally fixed now.)  When I came for New Student Advising Day last spring, I was never scheduled for a Language Placement Test, so when I looked at the classes I had left to complete for my degree, I was unable to access the language classes required to graduate.  (That was also fun, but also fixed.) *Side note: guess who did well enough on the placement test to get placed in the second level of Introductory Spanish, after not taking Spanish for seven years … thank you, three years of Italian in high school.*  I had to add another class to my schedule, the day after it had started, and thus I had to work hard to catch up. (That was really scary, but it’s all worked out now.)  And finally, on top of all of that, my car had an airbag that was recalled and could have been a projectile if I was in an accident, and it currently has a tire that has nail deeply embedded in it, and could be flat at any moment.

Sigh.

But it’s not all been crazy, I promise! My roommates and I are getting along, and I rather like them.  I’ve joined a Swing Dance club, the Creative Writing Group, the Outdoors Club, a group for kids with Disabilities, and the weekly Christian group.  I get to dissect a sheep’s brain next week, and I’m so excited!  And finally, (probably my favorite part so far) I’ve put my name on the list for a study abroad opportunity, for a five week class in Perugia Italy in the summer!  This class is about the philosophy of food, and seriously, how much fun does that sound like? And, I get to pick another class and one of the options available is “History of Art in Italy”Somebody pinch me …… I must be dreaming.

(There is a lot I have to say about college, particular from the aspect of transferring from a community college without dorms, to living on campus.  But I’m saving that for another time.)

In all of this self-growth and discovery and good attitudes, I would be remiss to acknowledge the horrible devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and some political statements and issues made recently, such as these pictures showing up on my Facebook newsfeed:

I may be at college, feeling like I’m in a safe bubble, separate from the outside world, but the world keeps turning and revolving ever still.

But this post is a “Collection of Beautiful Things” for a reason.  I’m choosing to remind myself of the beautiful things around me, and to be happy.  I am getting my Bachelor’s Degree.  I’m joining clubs I enjoy.  I’m growing, and learning, and really enjoying my classes.  My future is bright and beautiful before me.

And there are always beautiful things to see.

Like….

 

And this ….. gives me goose bumps every time

 

And this …

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And this ….

Love What Matters added 9 new photos.“Here I am, walking on the block with our Wilmington Police Department… you see, no one reports that officers are so close to the community that they let the girls braid their hair after joking that they wouldn’t! They don’t report on the genuinely real and sincere moments when Lieutenant Daniel Selekman (who by the way didn’t want me to post the football pics-probably because he kept throwing ‘wounded ducks’🤣❤️✊🏽) is throwing a ball with some boys, just because. So let’s flood Facebook with positivity and love because the news journal is reporting on the violence and gun violence issues… and people really begin to believe that, that is all that we have in Wilmo. Truth is, it’s not. What we have more of is love and caring.”
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And ….
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And this ….
In the midst of the devastation from these hurricanes, there is still beauty everywhere.  As Anne Frank said, “Think of all the beauty left still around and be happy.”
God is good.  People are good.  Life is beautiful.
Ciao for now,
Julia
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(P.S. For one of my classes, we’re studying Religious Literacy, and I am interested in seeing how much people know about other religions.  If you’re interested, here’s the survey: Religious Literacy.  Thanks!!)
 

Religious Literacy

Hey guys, I’m conducting another study!  This time, it’s inspired by a “Religion” class I’m taking.  This particular class is addressing the religious literacy of America, and the textbook makes some interesting claims and insights.  So, I thought I’d investigate a bit.

If you are interested, here is the link: Religious Literacy.  Because I am interested in organic responses, I ask that you don’t use outside sources.  And if you don’t know the answer, that’s totally fine!! Just please indicate that in the space provided. Also, this questionnaire is open to everyone; religious and non-religious alike.

(And, as always, if you could pass this on to your friends, that would be fantastic!!)

Thanks guys!!

Julia

Religion

Little Thoughts: Race and Politics

I know from that title alone, this post will garner attention.  This won’t be a radically political, or overly opinionated post, I promise.  But it may get emotional, and in terms of these topics, politics and opinions, and emotions go hand in hand.

One of my classes this semester has already created some powerful thoughts and insights for me.

I am taking a Religious Diversity in America class.  I have always been fascinated by other religious.  As a Christian, I think it’s so important to understand other beliefs systems, to be able to better meet people where they are.  And my professor is great.  She is fantastic.

And she is a black woman.

I am making that distinction, because she made us to do that.  She opened class by asking, “Who am I?  What am I?”. People danced around the glaring elephant in the room, for several minutes.  But I knew the moment she asked, what she wanted us to say.  She wanted us to bring up her skin color, her history.  She wasn’t being antagonistic, or pushing a political agenda.  She did this exercise to illustrate how each of us comes to the table with different biases and stereotypes.  Like I said, I really like her.

But what struck me wasn’t the point she was making, but in the inability I had to raise my hand and provide the answer she was looking for.  I felt incredibly awkward with the idea of being white and pointing out her skin color.  When I was able to recognize that, I was shocked and, frankly, ashamed.  I don’t believe in “white privilege”, and I don’t believe I am superior because I am white.  My ancestral pigmentation should not dictate how I act towards others of different races and colors.  But why did I have such a hard time raising my hand to answer my professor?

I’ve come up with a couple of theories about this, because really, my reaction to her question makes me angry.  With this ever increasing, racially hostile environment in America, am I noticing my behavior because the media says “All white people are racists!”, and I’m simply monitoring my behavior?  Or do I truly, deep down, treat black people differently?  Because of groups like “Black Lives Matter”, am I noticing these thoughts and behaviors for the first time?  Or am I having these thoughts and behaviors for the first time, because of these groups?  Growing up, I had friends of different races and backgrounds, and never once thought anything of them, other than if I liked playing/talking/hanging out with them.  So why is it, that suddenly, in the past year or so, I am more aware of other races, and how I’m “supposed” to treat them?  When I’ve never stopped to think about a person’s race before, and only cared if they treated me like I treated them, is it that this new racial atmosphere is “implanting” these thoughts and reactions in me?

Why can’t we treat people as people, and not overly respect them for being one race, and not tear them down for being the other?  Because, you know, as a white person, it feels like I get berated a lot on how I should treat black people …. when all I’ve ever treated people, regardless of race, is kindly and with respect, and like my God has taught me too.

Secondly, in the same exercise, my professor brought up politics.  When she asked the people who identified as Republicans to raise their hands, there were maybe ten of us.  And, we all hesitated.  That caught my professor’s attention, and she commented on it.  Before we put out hands down, the general feeling in the air between the handful of us, was shame.  We were ashamed about our political opinions, and that even implies we were ashamed about who we voted for, too.

I voted for Donald Trump.  And I could probably safely bet that the Republicans in my class did too.  And I can promise you that we each had our reasons for doing so, whether we supported him the entire election season or not.  But the reason I’m talking about this, is because the shame caught me off guard.  I am not ashamed of who I voted for, at least not privately.  And I think that’s the same with most Republicans.  Privately, we have no issues with who we voted for (for the most part).  But publicly, we stay as silent as the grave, because we knew we’d get slaughtered.

My big question is this: When everyone can admit this past election cycle felt like going through the ringer, why can’t we all just admit we voted for the person we did, based on what we believed was right?  Why do we feel shame, and why do we shame people, for voting for the person they believed was the best choice?

I’m beginning to understand politics like religion: people vote the way they do, or align politically the way they do, because of how they understand the world.  People believe the things they do and have the religious beliefs they do, because of how they understand the world.

And because I believe that is true, why can’t we, as a collective society, just accept each other and understand that we can not see eye to eye on everything?  And why can’t we seem to get it through our thick heads, that shaming people for doing what they thought is right, will just further divide us? 

We need to stop yelling about tolerance, and start forming conversations with people we don’t agree with.  Tolerance gets us nowhere, but respect and understanding, and a willingness to hear each other out, does.


I think that’s enough of that for the night ….

Ciao for now,

Julia

Summer Books

Here we go, finally! I didn’t read nearly as much this summer as I would have liked.  (I spent much of the time reading a heavy non-fiction book, which I still haven’t finished.). I read a few really good books this summer, and it’s sad to say, but I forgot how wonderful it is to actually read …..

May- Love What Matters418zGbohBsL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

This book actually comes from a Facebook page.  This is an organization that promotes love and respect and true humanity, without pushing a political agenda, and does so by allowing people to share their “heart” stories to the page.  The book is a compilation of those stories; some sad, some funny, and some everywhere in between.  I bought this book during final’s week last year, and promptly went home after a test to read it.  It made me cry, but made my heart feel overwhelming happy.  Really, this book is like a more mature/ poignant version of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

August- The Knife of Never Letting Go, Inferno

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a mix of dystopian and Sci-Fi.  It’s the story of a town where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts, and the consequences that has.  It’s written by Patrick Ness, and he has quickly become one of my favorite authors.  It’s written in vernacular, and the style of the writing reminded me a lot of Huckleberry Finn.  This book hurt to read, but it was captivating and heartfelt.  This book is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, and I’ve begun hunting wildly for the remaining books.

I have mentioned before that I really like Dan Brown.  I love that his books inspire conversations, and present really interesting, though completely fictitious theories.  Just this morning, I finished Inferno, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.  This is one piece of literature I know very little about, though it is on my reading list for this year.  This story takes place in Florence, and Venice, Italy, which are places I am desperate to travel to and was action packed and full of history and symbolism.  This particular story focused on the issue of over population and the moral conflict of that.  While getting settled into college and dealing with all that entails, this was a good book to decompress to.

What books have you been reading this summer?  I’d love to hear any suggestions.

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

 

 

Vulnerability.

I’ve been struggling with whether or not I wanted to write this post.

But I’m going to be vulnerable with you.

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I moved into my new college last Saturday.  I moved in early because band camp was slated for the few days before Freshman Orientation.  My brother, who is a freshman, moved into the same college today, and classes start on Monday.

I’m very excited for these next two years, and the awesome adventures they will bring.  (Study abroad in Italy, anyone??). I’m ready to propel myself into my school work, and arrive victorious on the graduation stage in two years, accepting my Bachelor’s degree.  I’m eager to learn, and ready to be challenged, and prepared to grow.

But the first few days were really hard.

I mean really hard.

My parents and my boyfriend can attest to that.  I called them multiple times feeling stressed or overwhelmed.  My boyfriend actually may have experienced me having an emotional breakdown.  I cried more than I’d care to admit, and got angry and frustrated a lot too.

Now, I know college.  I know how to do college.  I already have two years under my belt, and enough credits to be a junior.  But I was having a really hard time adjusting to jumping into an experience as the newbie.

I mentioned band camp was the few days before Orientation, so really, it was the past few days.  I missed marching band quite a lot while I was at the community college, and I really wanted to do it in college.  As I was prepping for band camp, never once did it occur to me to prepare myself to be the newbie again.

It was an incredibly overwhelming feeling of newness, and of loneliness.  I’m an introvert, and normally I’m completely content with doing life by myself.  I didn’t make many friends my first two years of college, and that didn’t, and still doesn’t bother me too much.  Don’t get me wrong, I talked to people and enjoyed people’s company.  But I didn’t make it my mission to leave that school with a group of close friends.  When I got to campus last week, I (stupidly) had the same mentality.  I thought I’d be okay to be (mostly) by myself.

Boy was I wrong.

The marching band at this school is roughly 130 people, which is double, if not triple, the size of my high school’s band.  I felt swallowed up and lost in a sea of already-made groups of friends.  My lonely tendencies were felt some much deeper, and really upset my heart.  If people invite me to join their group, I have no issue with that.  However, it’s hard for me to just join groups of friends.

I really struggled with that for a few days.  Eventually it got better, and now I can say I laugh and talk with the people in my flute section regularly.  I’m feeling comfortable with where I am, and how I’m meeting people.

Something else that was really hard for me was getting back into the groove of marching band.  Physically, my body knew exactly what to do the moment the metronome started.  I was actually surprised at how well my body responded to marching band after a two year respite.  (Though I did forget how badly marching while playing the flute screws with my back … there are knots all up and down my spine and in my shoulder blades …).

Mentally, I really struggled getting back into band.  Because I have been so far my flute for so long, I hadn’t realized how badly my skills have decreased.  I would love to say my skills are what they were when I graduated, but sadly, that just isn’t the case.  I can still play really well, but my sight-reading isn’t what it used to be, nor is my ability to play really well, really fast.  I struggled to come to terms with that fact for several days.

There were several times I was tempted to tell my parents, “I give up and I want to come home”.

Finally, it was hard for me to accept that I’m at the bottom again in terms of responsibility.  I know that sounds so odd, but just hear me out.  When I graduated high school, I had been the section leader in the marching band for two years, and I really enjoyed having a position of authority.  My junior year, I had even contemplated trying out for drum major for the following year.  So it was hard for me to accept that I’m just part of the section, and that given my limited time at this college, I don’t have the ability to move into a position of authority.

I don’t regret my decision to do college the way I have.  I’m very proud of the fact that I will be graduating with less than $10,000 in debt, because of the way I’m doing college.   However, my mind is filled with all kinds of “what if’s” about what my future could have looked like, if I had come to this college straight out of high school.   Like I said, I don’t regret it, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

I’ve also been learning how easy it is to lose the essence of who you are at college.  Not grounded in anything familiar, I felt myself a drift in the unknown.  I felt my soul disappearing into a small spark.  An incident last night almost caught me directly changing my behavior to fit into a group.  That scared me, and was a wake up call.  I was on the phone with my boyfriend last night, and as I was telling him about this, I could feel a steely resolve building up within me, to not lose myself.

I really struggled.  I found myself not willing to grow and challenge my comfort zones.

It’s a crazy and powerful thing, breaking through the things that once scared you.   The closer it got to moving in last week, the more and more scared I became.  I would tell anyone I trusted that I was excited, but utterly terrified.  And yet here I am,  four days from starting my junior year, and I’m ready.   Image-1

On one of the days I was really struggling, my boyfriend sent me Joshua 1:9.  It was a powerful reminder to me to breath and relax in God’s powerful and strong hands.  And you know, I think it was that moment that re-sparked my soul.

~~~

God is good.  I am at college.  I have great roommates.  I survived hard days.  I have a loving, supportive family.  I have a wonderful, incredibly supportive boyfriend.  And I have a heart and soul that can overcome hard things.

I am being vulnerable, and exposing my heart, because I find courage in seeing the things I’ve already overcome.  I am ready to take on the world.