Abroad Profile: Filling the empty spaces

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

I have never been particularly good with change. Up until now, the biggest change I had ever experienced was moving from my home in Denver to attend Goucher, and let me assure you—the transition was terrifying to me. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the country with no friends, no familiar spaces or comfort zones, no support other than what my parents could offer me over the phone. I spent nearly two weeks going through the motions of life and falling into bed at night, completely disheartened by my paralyzing fear of change.

But after two weeks, I began opening up. I made new friends. I became familiar with Goucher’s campus. I formed a support group of faculty members and fellow students. I no longer felt empty, and I was proud of my accomplishment. I actually grew to like the change from my hometown.

It was then that I realized that change was not really the thing that scared me: I was afraid of the transition that must take place for change to occur. I picture it like coming to the end of the chapter in the book and then turning the page to start the next chapter—the end of one chapter might be sad, but there is hope when the new chapter begins. The scary part is the blank space in between the last line of one chapter and the first line of the next, where all the doubt and uncertainty waits to seize you. What if you turn the page and hate follows? What if it’s nothing like you anticipated or imagined it would be?

All change comes with this empty space between what has been and what will be. It is the transition period between starting a new job, the settling in when you move to a new house. It is the tenuous limbo between here and there, the uncertain helplessness between now and then.

The blank space in my journey abroad has not been easy. I arrived in England a day before my program started, which meant I had one night completely alone in a hotel room across the world from anything I knew. I was trapped in the white space between chapters, waiting for the page to turn.

I spent the first two days in London craving some sort of permanence in my life. I was living out of two suitcases in a hotel room, I had no friends, and I certainly didn’t feel anything familiar. Looking around London was difficult because it felt almost like New York City, but there was this strange foreignness—something I couldn’t even fully describe—that kept me from feeling at home. I was scared that the blank space would never end, that I would never turn the page, never start my next chapter.

But then I remembered something: when I went to Goucher, I was unhappy until I took the initiative to make friends and familiarize myself with Goucher’s campus and the surrounding area. So on my third night in London, I decided to forego staying in the cocoon of my hotel room watching House of Cards on Netflix and, instead, venture out with my orientation group at ten o’clock at night in Central London. As we walked through the city, we began a lively discussion about free will and morality, quoting reputable sources, excitedly interjecting our insights, and I began to feel comfortable again. My knowledge became my comfort zone, confirming that I have something valuable to share, and suddenly I felt connected to ten new friends. And just like that, the blank space finally ended.

Pre-departure thoughts: Moving out and moving on

Jordan Javert

Contributing Editor

My bedroom floor is currently a mosaic of my past memories.

I am in the process of packing up my possessions before I take the long journey across the ocean to England, where I will spend the next nine months. But anyone who has tried to pack a large volume of miscellaneous items into square boxes knows that half the process is spreading things out in order to see how they might all fit together. It’s like putting together a puzzle made out of past memories embedded in the objects that you choose to pack, and right now, those memories are spread out all over the floor, staring up at me.

Read more of this post

Life, as seen on TV

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

Today as I was walking through Best Buy, one of the biggest televisions in the store caught my eye. It was a Samsung LED television that boasted a 65 inch display, vibrant color definition, and an image quality that made the video of New York City that was displayed on the screen look as real as if I were actually in New York. But what really caught my eye—in fact, the only reason I even bothered stopping—was the fact that the television was curved.

     A salesman approached me and started listing off the details of the television (as if a college student could possibly afford the $3,000 price tag), and I listened even though I wasn’t really interested in making a purchase. I just wanted to look at the pretty picture of New York for a few seconds before continuing on my way.

     As I was brainstorming ways to make a quick escape from the salesman, he said something that caught my attention: “Really,” he said, “this is the best image quality out there. In

fact, with the color enhancing technology in this device, it gives you a picture that is better than real life.”

     If there was any phrase that was going to convince me not to buy that television, it was that one. And worse yet, as I studied the image on the screen, which had switched to a colorful view of Prague, I was tempted to agree with the salesman. The reds were brighter, the blues richer. The definition made every window in the city visible in a way that the human brain could never process even as the eye saw it, and the cars on the street took on a spectacular, lively potential as they sped through the city and wove between buildings.

     Suddenly, in the middle of Best Buy, I was having an existential crisis hinging on the existence of a television that makes a picture that is better than real life. If I could purchase a television like that, there would be no point in traveling or even in leaving my house, right? I would be able to sit on my couch and display an image of the Great Barrier Reef, and I wouldn’t have to get a SCUBA certification or be worried about all the animals that would probably be trying to kill me as I swam around the Australian waters. I could display the summit of Mount Everest without having to fly across the world and actually climb it. Worst of all, I could play a sitcom on the screen and stay in my house pretending that I had actual friends. After all, the picture is better than real life, right? Why even bother with real life if I can get a better picture on a screen?

     Spelled out this way, it’s obvious that there are flaws in this sort of reasoning. Despite the fact that people are making televisions with displays that are better than real life, I’m sure we can all agree that there is an important distinction between real life and what technology suggests real life might be. Anyone on Instagram knows that social media would be dull and pointless without filters, owns that the whole network is an exercise in posturing as more interesting than you really are. In fact, the more you look at any sort of technology, the more it feels like technology reduces real life into a series of images.

     In 1928, René Magritte painted a work called “The Treachery of Images” (French: “La trahison des images”) in which he painted a pipe and captioned it “Ceci n’est une pipe.”: “This is not a pipe.” Perhaps for the next few years, people will remember that televisions and Facebook and the internet are not real life, and perhaps for the next few years, people will maintain their interest in real-world living. But it is not hard to imagine a world in which people stop thinking this way; as Chuck Klosterman says in his book “Eating the Dinosaur,” “We are latently enslaved by our own ingenuity, and we have unknowingly constructed a simulated world…the benefits of technology are easy to point out…but they do not compensate for the overall loss of humanity that is its inevitable consequence.”

     Technology raises important questions of authenticity and truth. A television can display New York City in a beautiful and artistic (read: color enhanced) way, but what is shown on the screen cannot convey the energy of a hundred thousand people walking shoulder to shoulder down Fifth Avenue. It cannot convey the human spirit of New York City.

     Maybe the Best Buy salesman was right: a curved television can produce an image that is better than real life. But I do not want my life to become a series of images on a color-enhanced LED display, curved or not. I want to walk down Fifth Avenue. I want to touch the shoulders of the people I pass. I want to make contact with humanity.

Brandy Melville: One size or no size

Jordan Javelet
Opinion Editor

The first time I encountered Brandy Melville brand clothing, I was at a PacSun in California with my sixteen-year-old cousin Justine. Several crop tops and skirts from the brand’s summer fashion line were on display at the front of the store, and Justine immediately reached for one of the crop tops and started cooing to my aunt about how cute it was.
It was a simple black crop top. It probably took less than one square yard of fabric to make. The fabric was a blend of cotton, spandex, and rayon. It was nothing special, and I assumed that Brandy Melville was just one of those elite California brands that charged twenty bucks for something I could get for four dollars at Forever 21 or H&M. I figured that the value was in the brand name, not the clothing itself.
Read more of this post

WWJO: What would Jesus order?

Jordan Javelet
Opinion Editor

My mother works as the communications coordinator for a small suburb of Denver, and part of her

The print image of Jesus tat was given to my mother (Photo: Jordan Javelet)

The print image of Jesus tat was given to my mother (Photo: Jordan Javelet)

job involves answering and routing phone calls from citizens to the various departments housed in City Hall. One citizen, an eccentric old man with a great need to have dialogue with someone about something, calls the City of Arvada government offices repeatedly – as in, at least four times a week. My mom patiently helps him out every time he calls, and about a month ago, the man was so overwhelmed with gratitude for my mom’s help that he drove to City Hall to give my mom what he claimed was a “signed, numbered original” of a famous artist’s pencil drawing of Jesus’ face.
Read more of this post

The selfie of Dorian Gray

Jordan Javelet
Opinion Editor

“Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly in front of his picture and turned towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time….Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed….The life that was to make his soul would mar his body.” –Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”
I like to take selfies as much as the next almost-twenty college student with an iPhone and an Instagram – which is to say I like to take selfies a lot. Selfies have become something of a staple in the world of social media, which means they’ve become something of a staple in the world, because I think it’s safe to say that society is getting to a point where the real world and the virtual world overlap almost constantly.
Read more of this post

How to be an efficient and respectful traveler

Jordan Javelet
Opinion Editor

Goucher College draws students from all over the country – and the world – which means most of us deal with airline travel at least four times per year (maybe a few more if we decide to go home for Thanksgiving and Spring Break). And since all of us will go abroad at some point during college, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone here at Goucher has or will have flown on a plane by the time we graduate.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with some helpful tips to make traveling easier.
DO pack wisely. Packing up your entire closet to ensure you have all the clothes you need might feel necessary, but in reality, packing minimally translates into NO CHECKED bags, and that saves time at every airport departure and arrival point. Packing minimally also means that your suitcase doesn’t break your back when you go to heave it up on the security belt or to place it in the overhead bin. Remember, there will probably be laundry facilities wherever you are traveling to, so you can count on a clean set of clothing without packing something new for every day of the trip.
Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 676 other followers