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Olivia Rotenberg

More by Olivia Rotenberg

How To: Keep Close When You're Far



As the semester comes to a close, most of us will be returning to our respective homes.  We won’t be able to see some of our best friends for five whole weeks and will inevitably be separated by thousands of miles.  Others of us (like myself) are preparing to leave the Bowdoin Bubble for much longer…and are traveling even further.  Many Juniors will be heading abroad to countries all over the world for an entire semester, making the five week break seem like a breeze.  Although it might not be easy, we must accept the fact that we have to say goodbye to our closest friends. I must admit that, even though our generation is provided with ample ways to keep in touch, we often fall short when it comes to maintaining connections with the important people in our lives.  I know they say that ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ but keeping in touch is a crucial element in the equation.  Here are a few tips on how to stay close even when you’re worlds away:

1.     Skype

Skype is the obvious front-runner when it comes to keeping in touch.  Leave your Skype up on the background of your computer when you are home and maybe you’ll unexpectedly have the chance to re-connect with friends.


2.     Write Letters

Sadly… Our generation has moved away from the art of letter writing.  However, there’s nothing better than opening up your mailbox to something other than letters from the bank and spam from Wal-Mart.  Handwritten letters are genuine and show you care.


How To: Impress With Your Body Language



As I am writing this article, Bowdoin, Maine, the United States and the World are watching Mitt Romney and Barack Obama await the results of their painstaking journey to the White House.  Months of campaign touring, vicious ads and debates come down to today.  Both Romney and Obama have been highly scrutinized for every awkward smile, off color comment, outfit choice… you name it! These candidates must be constantly aware that they are continuously judged––not only by what they say, but by every move that they make. 

As we begin to think about possible summer jobs and internships (or maybe even our future careers) we can all relate to Obama and Romney...

As candidates for President, both Romney and Obama worked to gain the trust of voters. Their task: convince the public that they will follow through with their promises regardless of their previous experience. As Melvin Scales, assistant director of student career services at Wake Forest University School of Business notes, “They are coached to come off as confident, approachable and trustworthy, much of which is communicated nonverbally. You never see President Obama coming off Air Force One slowly; he always has a pep in his step. That communicates energy and optimism and happiness to be there.”

How To: Be Happy Without Lowering Your Expectations


Disney World is the happiest and most magical place on earth. It is a land where princesses and fairies roam the streets, eager to kiss every little girl on the cheek, and where a plausible breakfast consists of Funnel Cake and Mickey shaped ice cream cones.

Only here can you step out of reality and into the world of fantasy, future or past–– a world where you can take a rocket to space, converse with ghouls and ghosts or watch Indiana Jones taunt death. It is the only location on this planet where each and every visitor is special, an essential piece to the magical puzzle of amusement. Let’s be frank––what could be better?

Last spring break, I asked myself this very question, hence making a hasty decision to spend my week of freedom in Disney World. As I reminisced of my childhood family vacations to the Orlando destination, the decision became obvious. I didn’t need an MTV, Cabo Wabo, bikini clad, Jell-O Shot filled, “Springgggg Breaaaaak” when I was presented with the opportunity to hang with Ariel and the gang. So that was that, I booked my ticket…hopped on a plane…and headed to the magical world of Disney.

However, my excitement quickly faded as I stepped foot onto the grounds of the Magic Kingdom. THAT—was Cinderella’s castle!? It appeared so much smaller, and way less impressive than I ever remembered! The Belle character standing at the front gate looked straight creepy in her caked on makeup, clearly counting the minutes to her next break. My disappointment grew tenfold as I raced past the children on leashes and school groups in ugly yellow t-shirts to Space Mountain for my first ride. “An HOUR long wait!”–– Couldn’t be…

How To: Fake It 'Til You Make It


Remember in Middle School when you stole your mom’s makeup, wore pants that said ‘Juicy’ on the butt, and lusted after the stars of Laguna Beach? Can you recall those wondrous years when your greatest desires weren’t to go to medical school or travel Europe but rather to be invited to the weekend’s biggest event–– the infamous bar mitzvah party, where you might just get the chance to slow dance with the pre-pubescent stud on the pee wee hockey team?

As much as I’d love to answer with a rousing ‘no’, I must admit that often, my middle school years are clearer in my mind than last Saturday night. I promise I’m not attempting to make you re-live your awkward prime just to be mean; rather, I’m attempting to reach backward to see if we can maybe gain a little bit of wisdom from these seemingly useless years of existence.

Middle school is all about ‘fitting in’—about making sure that every projection of your self blends with what is considered socially ‘acceptable’ by your peers. You like math…? Better not show it, because as Gretchen Weiners’ from Mean Girls articulates so well, if you break the social rules, then, “You can’t sit with us!” Trapped in fear of being forced to eat your lunch in a bathroom stall, you’re obliged to conform to the norm–– to “fake it till you make it.”

This phrase, ‘fake it till you make it,’ made me think. Maybe, all those years of middle school weren’t completely useless after all. Most of us learned how to ‘fake it’ until we ‘made it’ in the political, carnivorous and hostile world of the middle school social scene–– and learning this skill is certainly critical for life.

How To: Handle Your Folks


What is the biggest, rowdiest, drunkest, and possibly scariest weekend on campus? I bet you’re thinking what I’m thinking—Parent’s Weekend, right? 

Maybe it seems I’m crazy at this point… or that I have quite an interesting family life. Nevertheless, I think I can make the argument that, last year, the above was indeed the case.

By the masterful planning of Bowdoin College, Parent’s Weekend fell on the very eve of every college kid’s favorite holiday—Halloween. Now I hope you understand a little more about why my characterization may be accurate…

I identify with the 1% of the student population that actually enjoyed having my parents here on Halloween to relive their Animal House days and put my costume together. Unfortunately, this year the college sided with the 99% and concluded that there is something morally deficient about having your mom drive you and your friends to Crack House dressed as Disney Princesses ‘gone bad’.

This year, Parent’s Weekend will fall on the last weekend in September, giving you the freedom to fully indulge in your Halloween fun--sans parents. Instead of having your mom do your Kiss costume makeup, you’re going to have to think of some other things to do with your parents for entertainment.

Thus, I have come up with a little ‘How to Guide’ to entertaining your folks:

1. Popham Beach
Take your parents on the scenic drive to Popham, one of the most beautiful beaches in Maine (in my opinion). The weather will still be nice and they will inevitably enjoy the white sand and expansive beach walk.

2. Simpson’s Point
Another hidden gem of Maine: Simpson’s Point is just down the road. If you’re feeling adventurous, go on a walk or a bike ride to this beautiful ocean side location.

How To: NOT Be ‘That Girl'


If you’re new to Bowdoin this fall, your room is finally unpacked, pre-O trip past, homework beginning and new friendships emerging. College is no longer a distant land of freedom or self- reinvention, it’s here-- the present, and it comes with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns.

With new professors, more homework, learning hundreds of names and trying to find your niche around campus, freshman fall can be overwhelming. You may find yourself, understandably, “living for the weekend.”

Even though shows like ‘Greek’ make it seem like Jello shots, jungle juice, and shirtless frat brothers are the only option for a weekend at college, I assure you that at Bowdoin, this isn’t the case. Even if you do participate in the Bowdoin equivalent of the “Greek” scene you probably don’t want to produce a spectacle of television caliber. 

On almost every college campus there is a running joke among upper classmen that you have to, ‘catch the freshman while they’re still fresh.’ When I think of ‘catching ‘em when they’re still fresh’, I immediately envision a group of about eight excited freshman girls in tight black skirts preparing for their first real college party. They’re all quick friends who may have had a few too many swigs of the Raspberry Smirnoff handle that’s been hidden under a bunk bed, anxiously awaiting the end of orientation.

After the cameras come out and multiple rounds of Rihanna’s ‘Cheers’ have echoed through halls of the freshman dorm, it is time to leave. The excitement follows the girls to the party––where upperclassmen dwell…. As more booze is poured, the night only becomes hazier, and there you go.

Once Hell Week Subsides... Great Things to Do This Summer


“Welcome to Hell Week”–– The four words that every Navy SEAL in training dreads more than anything in the world. The fourth week of basic training for the SEALs is given this fitting name. It entails five days and five nights of lugging heavy rubber Zodiacs, performing timed exercises, runs, and crawls through mud flats. Trainees clock in a maximum of four hours of sleep for the entire week, which they inevitably spend wet, cold and verbally battered all day, everyday.

Now, you might be wondering why I am taking the time to enlighten you about the training procedures of the Navy SEALs. Because, it’s that time of year again, that time when the only daylight you see is the artificial kind emanating from your computer screen, or maybe a crack of light shining distantly from a dusty window in the Stacks. It’s that time when it feels like your only social interactions are spent at meals (which have to be short in order to get back to the H/L basement).

You must know by know that I’m talking about finals week. Although it might seem like a never-ending ‘Hell Week,’ I thought I would leave you with the image of the wet, cold, sleep deprived and physically drained Navy SEAL to make your own situation seem a little bit sweeter. But in all truth, this week sucks, and everyone knows it. However, just like the Navy’s ‘Hell Week,’ finals inevitably come to an end. If a trainee passes ‘Hell Week,’ he is granted the gift of becoming one of the United States military’s most honorable soldiers. When we finish finals–– we are granted the beautiful gift of summer.

Thanks To My Mentor: The Gift of Guidance


Think about that one person in your life who you turn to for answers.  That person who understands the way you think, who helps you make and achieve your goals, teaches you life lessons and isn’t afraid to put you back in line when you make a mistake.  Maybe it’s your mom or favorite teacher-- for me, it was my high school hockey coach, Brano Stankovsky.  Brano was more than just a coach to my teammates and me.  Like any great coach, he loved to win, and was awfully good at it. What he loved even more than trophies and hockey, though, was teaching ‘his girls’ how to live life to the fullest and appreciate all that we are given—whether that meant doing our best in school, saying thank you to our teammates and families, or appreciating our opponents-- he always knew the answer. Brano made sure to attend all of our choir concerts, art shows, graduations and big speeches. To him, we weren’t just players, but young women who had hidden potential in all walks of life. He was the ultimate mentor who inspired us all to transform from a hockey team, into a big group of sisters who still keep in the closest of contact.

When I heard that Brano had suddenly passed away, I was crushed. My mentor and role model was gone. When I look back, however, I can only be thankful to have had Brano to push and pull me along through the good times and the bad. I know that he would want me to pass on the one thing he held so dear, and that's the importance of finding a mentor for yourself, and for those of you who are ready--to be a mentor for someone else.

Going Viral: The Power of Social Media and What to Keep in Mind


Sorry ladies, but the UK’s Daily Mail just reported that ‘The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’ is officially off the market.  If you’re not familiar with the story of Zeddie Little… let me fill you in.
Little became an internet sensation after this photo was taken during a 10k race in Charleston, South Carolina.

Can you spot him? While most of the runners sport the inevitable effects of participation in this type of event-- clear expressions of agony, sweaty pits and discomfort-- Little shows quite the opposite.  His fresh hairstyle, genuine smile, and over-all good looks have catapulted Little to internet fame, now known as the “Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.” After a photographer uploaded this picture of Little onto Flickr, the photo went viral, receiving 1.25 million views since it was posted on March 31st.  Little even has his own Facebook fan page where he boasts more than 39,000 followers. Fans from India, Romania, Pakistan and around the globe are posting on the page with encouragements for Little to “keep smiling and spreading the joy”!
When almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter or Flickr account, the ability to ‘go viral’ is becoming an achievable reality. Justin Beiber found his claim to fame after posting charming videos of himself singing onto YouTube. A recent episode of ABC’s Modern Family even pokes fun at the phenomenon when everyone’s favorite- Phil - goes on a rant, and subsequently gets ‘auto tuned’ and put on YouTube.  (I provided the link for your enjoyment)
You might be thinking–– So what? I’m not planning on becoming an internet super star anytime soon, why is this relevant to me? 

When Life Gives You Lemons: Making the Best of Life's Less Sweet Moments


It’s just about that time of year again–– time to choose this summer’s job or internship, next year’s roommates and living situation, where or if you want to study abroad, and countless other decisions that only add to the loads of stress that conveniently pile up in the weeks before spring vacation.  This time of year inevitably strains friendships and relationships and general sanity. What are you supposed to do when your three best friends decide to live together but there is no room for you to join? Or maybe you have to go abroad the opposite semester of someone you really care about. How will you cope with not seeing him or her for an entire year? How will you respond when you excitedly open the letter from the internship you’ve been dying to hear from, and the first words read, ‘You’re a great candidate… BUT…”

Simply put–– sometimes, things just don’t go our way. It can feel like we’re constantly taking two steps forward and one step back, never moving ahead with jobs, or roommate troubles or any of the other stress-inducing components of a Bowdoin student’s life.  The question is, how are we supposed to react when it feels like no one’s on our ‘side’ or nothing’s going our way?  Some might say hey, sh•• happens, take those lemons and make lemonade! But honestly, has that saying ever actually inspired anyone? In light of my annoyance with this overly used cliché, I decided to come up with a few pointers on steps you can actually take when life bursts your bubble…