Thoughts on my upcoming trip to GTL

All, I feel inclined to invite you to tune into the foibles of one chap’s trip off the beaten path to GTL this summer. I hope you will join me on my journey as my loyal and steadfast comrade.

Few have the privilege of pondering, “Where would you go if you could go anywhere in Europe?” I am now considered to be one of those lucky few. Never have maps looked so intriguing and invigorating to me. I relish each chance to just sit in front of a map and run my finger along each border, scanning, scouring, and perusing the most fascinating destination.

I close my eyes and imagine every picture, letting my mind unwind and explore the endless possibilities. There seems to be something for everyone, whether my friends and I fancy a cup of tea in London, the Tomorrowland music festival, the breathtaking Vanoise National Park, or the French Open. I envisage bikes in Amsterdam, paragliding in Interlaken, castles in Prague, and Dublin accents. If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll enjoy the Holocaust Museum or the four facades of the Sagrada Família Church in Barcelona. Soon, we will be in the working world and we will be too busy for adventure. So now is the time to plan trips we could never otherwise take. Maybe you’re a foodie and lover of music and culture. Italy is home to Osteria Francescana, the Michelin 3 star restaurant in Modena, Italy, featuring whimsical dishes such as “Oops, I Dropped the Lemon Tart!” Any lover of language can attest there is no better experience than full immersion.There’s something delicate about the molding and blending and rolling of the vowels and edges of consonants in the French language.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

All my life, I could only dream of so many opportunities—snorkeling, Stonehenge, the Coliseum, Monte-Carlo Casino, locally farmed ostrich. What better captures the beautiful simplicity of nature? Allowing the aroma to waft through the air into your nostrils? What could be more delectable than encountering Mozart’s past in Vienna? Each provocative flavor and color entices another emotion. There is enthralling mystery in trying something new. I can’t wait to be intrigued and enchanted with the quaint cottages of the Yorkshire countryside, and perhaps even the Goathland Station set of Harry Potter. All this while still getting an education in one of the premier institutions in the world, studying what I was born to love—industrial engineering. I get to take four classes: statistical methods, Python with databases, evolution and the Industrial Revolution, and 20th Century History.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Dr. Seuss

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I anticipate that one day I will have the chance to return to Italy and Paris. So my goal is to hit the exotic countries—Croatia, Bosnia and others that I will be less likely to return to when I’m older.

My preparation for GTL:

  • I’m bringing a rain jacket!
  • Toiletries: I’m going to pack all the toiletries and stuff I think I will need while I’m there. Shampoo, conditioner, deodorants, body wash, razor (and heads), face wash, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. I’ve heard it’s not worth it to buy it in Europe because it’s expensive and it will be too heavy to walk back with it from the store!
  • Bring my own medicines: A lot of people get sick during the first month in travel, often because of the time change. Medicine is expensive in Europe!
  • Bring at least one towel. Hostels will often charge you to use one.
  • Bring walking shoes I can walk everywhere in!
  • Make myself pack light: I shouldn’t worry about repeating outfits…no one will care! People are mainly going to be concerned with the awesome places we will be going to! By packing light, I will have room to bring home cool trinkets and fun souvenirs for family and friends.
  • Stores: Cora (a cool thrift shop GTL sets up) and Simply (grocery store)
  • Buy my Eurail pass in advance because it takes time for them to mail it
    • Get the Eurail Rail Planner App
  • Open a Band of America account and Get a Bank of America card to use to withdraw cash from BNP/PNP Paribas ATM’s. Get a Capital One Travel Rewards credit card to avoid international credit fees and accumulate rewards!
  • Take pictures of your passport on my phone
  • Get T-Mobile for best international cell coverage
  • Buses
    • Lafayette-C12 bus at Seulhotte takes you to Gare (the bus station) and Republique(downtown Metz)
    • Take L4 to return to Lafayette

“We naturally crave increase in all our endeavours.”
Sunday Adelaja


Photo Credits


Arpege Restaurant: Mont St Michel:


My friend Arnelle (far left), my roommate Michael (far right) and I at an international art exhibition in Savannah, Georgia on Feb. 15, 2016.


Blog Post #3 Revised for Extra Credit

The Pretty Little Liars pilot encodes women as intuitive problem solvers that can save themselves. An ominous narrator introduces Spencer searching for Alison alone while shrouded in mysterious shadows, darkness, and white light. A vivid flashback with saturated colors reveals Aria on her way home from school, stumbling into her father making love to another woman in his car. When Hannah is accused of stealing sunglasses from the mall, her mother provides sexual favors to the chief police to prevent him from conducting an investigation. Aria is not afraid to confront her father or his mistress about their affair. The girls band together against corrupt men in a dark world with help from non-absent, non-emasculating mothers.

Furthermore, the pilot defers the episodic story arc in order to focus on relationship dynamics and implicit dialogue among the characters. Jenna is shown sending a text at the same time that the girls receive a cryptic text message from a girl named “A”. These tropes are initially misleading and stereotypical in nature, but become more flexible and enigmatic in the consequent episodes. This prompts viewers to “therapeutically and analytically” (Mittell) discuss the characters between episodes and become emotionally and intellectually invested in them.



Extra Credit

Little Things Go a Long Way

In Never Say Never, Justin Bieber is presented as a gifted child who turns his dream of being a superstar into a reality through gifts and hard work. Through interviews with his single mother and his grandparents, Justin is portrayed enjoying a simple lifestyle as a child, playing soccer and hockey. He is mesmerized by his neighbors’ band, developing a natural disposition for music. He learns the drums, guitar, and piano by age 12.  He cherishes the opportunity to perform on the street in front of the Avon Theatre and at the Stratford Music Competition. His videos on YouTube quickly receive national attention, prompting an agent named Scooter Braun to approach his family to present the opportunity of pursuing a record label. His mom never pressures him to be successful, asserting that she will always love him because of who he is, not what he does. Through preparing himself for the work he has ahead, Justin’s charisma, fearlessness, and enthusiasm bourgeon.

There is a dichotomy of flashbacks to Justin’s past and the ten days leading up to his concert at Madison Square Garden.  A slow-motion camera captures Justin’s flowing wavy hair. “Carmina Burana” plays in the background as scenes of delirious, screaming girls and the paparazzi surround his vehicle at the airport. When he is introduced as the headliner of Madison Square Garden, tickets sell out within 22 minutes. Wide lens camera angles of the Garden are juxtaposed with clips of past performances by Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones. David Beckham, Snoop Dawg, and Will Smith are all in attendance. Just a year and three days ago, Justin was a kid in a small town in Canada, working abs at the YMCA and breaking a stuffed fox while playing sticks with a friend. Now, Justin inspires a level of fan loyalty and ownership unparalled by any other artist.

When Justin finally reaches his dream, his goal becomes inspiring others to reach theirs. Every show, he brings a random girl on stage, gives her a bouquet of roses, and sings her the song “One Less Lonely Girl”. He graciously informs Boyz to Men what an honor it is to sing with them, and thanks his grandpa for introducing him to the color purple. His ultimate joy is bringing happiness to others and providing an opportunity for others to perform.


Blog Post #5

Overall, the blog post assignments have been tremendously beneficial to my writing habits. At the beginning of my semester, my writing was redundant and contained a great deal of unnecessary verbiage. Through the help of the comments on T-Square, I have learned to focus on examples from the articles that provided evidence for my argument. In my post about the pilot of Pretty Little Liars, I added examples of Spencer going off into the darkness to search for Alison on her own, and Hannah’s mother coming to her rescue after she is caught stealing sunglasses. This provided a crucial element to the effectiveness of the argument—evidence that women are “encoded as problem solvers that can save themselves”. The most helpful aspect was the peer review in class. Getting to hear other students’ feedbacks and opinions narrowed to scope of the paper to focus on answering the question at hand rather than getting off on a tangent. That way, we could see what other students thought was important about the assignment, such as which points should we be addressing and which ideas could be left out. The least productive aspect was often re-reading my own work since I was unaware of new perspectives or errors I had overlooked.


Network Research

ABC Family contains more socially controversial material than during its inception in 1977 and spinoff in 1990 as the “Family Channel”. In 2006, ABC Family rebranded itself with the tagline “A New Kind of Family” in order to target millennials and other young adult demographics(1) . In the 2012-13 television season, 33 percent of the hours on ABC and 50 percent of ABC Family on cable had LGBT characters(2). The Fosters features an interracial lesbian couple raising biological, adopted, and foster children. In recent episodes, it has featured two thirteen year-old boys kissing each other and a gay wedding, and will feature a trans character next season(3). In the exciting teen thriller Pretty Little Liars, Shay Mitchell plays a gay lead character named Emily.

Shay notes that one goal of the network, a reason she accepted the role, has a lot to do with fan response. She could sense the duty of the role and the positive impact changing the perception of gay teens from the “gothic teen that sits alone in the corner” would have on viewers. According to Shay, ABC Family is trying to communicate to viewers that being gay is not what defines a person(4).

1383821139235.cachedThese storylines are a lot more interesting than yet another white man on television.

“We wanted to represent family in a contemporary and authentic way, but we also didn’t want to run away from the word family,” says Kate Juergens, ABC Family’s Chief Creative Officer and Executive Vice President for Original Programming and Development. ABC Family President Michael Riley asserts that The Fosters merges perfectly with the network’s “groundbreaking storytelling and iconic characters” and will feature “the same depth, heart, close relationships and authenticity that our viewers have come to expect” in the future(3).
(1) “ABC Family (Creator) – TV Tropes.” ABC Family (Creator) – TV Tropes. TV Tropes, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <;.

(2) Linton, Caroline. “Surprise! ABC Family and Fox Are the Gayest Networks on TV.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 7 Nov. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. <;.

(3), David Mccormack For. “The Moment ABC Family’s The Fosters Made TV History by Showing Two 13-year-old Characters Lock Lips in the Youngest Ever Gay Kiss On-screen .” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 05 Mar. 2015. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <;.

(4) “Pretty Little Liars Star Shay Mitchell on Playing a Lesbian: “It’s Just Normal””Wetpaint. N.p., 21 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. <;.


Blog Post 3 (Revised)

According to Mittell, the pilot introduces characters and genre in a way that is meaningful and understandable to its target audience. In the pilot of Pretty Little Liars, the first two minutes set the stage of the show. An ominous narrator describes a detective shrouded in mysterious shadows, darkness, and white light. Flashbacks from high school reveal attributes and appearances of characters through bright light and saturated colors. Women are encoded as intuitive problem solvers that can save themselves. For example, Spencer goes off into the darkness to search for Alison on her own. Hannah’s mother comes to her rescue after she is caught stealing sunglasses, boldly questioning her ambitions and motives. Aria openly confronts her father about his affair. The girls band together against corrupt men in a dark world with help from non-absent, non-emasculating mothers.

Furthermore, the pilot defers the episodic story arc in order to focus on relationship dynamics and implicit dialogue among the characters. Jenna is shown sending a text at the same time that the girls receive a cryptic text message from a girl named “A”. These tropes are initially misleading and stereotypical in nature, but become more flexible and enigmatic in the consequent episodes. This prompts viewers to “therapeutically and analytically”(Mittell) discuss the characters between episodes and become emotionally and intellectually invested in them.


Blog Post 3

The pilot of Pretty Little Liars illustrates the genre and expectations of the show using elements of soap opera, noir film, thriller, mystery, and teen drama. In the opening scene, a tough lone wolf detective with a shady background is depicted using mysterious shadows, darkness, and white light. Flashbacks are often in the high school setting, revealing attributes and appearances of characters through very bright color saturation. An innocent girl needs saving, but a “femme fatale” gets in the way, pushing the girl detectives into trouble. Women are typically gender encoded as causing trouble, but in this pilot, women in a dark world in essence save themselves. The girls are able to band together against corrupt men thanks to non-absent, non-emasculating mothers.

Furthermore, the mystery of “A” is left unsolved in order to advertise commercials directed towards teen girls and maintain its audience. To intrigue the viewer, the pilot uses misleading red herrings and relationship dynamics that do not solely revolve around men and romance. Through transmedia storytelling, the pilot simultaneously pays homage to detective flicks while advertising hair and makeup products. Characters are in their most stereotypical tropes in the pilot and become more flexible, fully fledged, complex characters in the consequent episodes, which draws the viewer in and keeps them coming back for more.