Reconnecting with home

Coming back is not easy. During finals coming back home seems like paradise, the promise land. But after two weeks reality shows you otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I love been around my family and having coffee with my friends, but I miss the vibrant environment, where every single minute something is happening.  I don’t know if such dynamic is peculiar or that’s the way we (the students) built the environment. We are rule-makers but we are also followers.

Taking small steps reconnecting with your own home shouldn’t be as hard. What I have tried so far is cooking a meal, watching a movie together, sending my friend a billion texts, and helping out younger college students. Not bad at all. The worst part of being home is dealing with problems you thought they were fixed ages ago or you just forgot about them. Like today, I came bad to a flooded bedroom, at least 2 inches of water. And of course, a flood is not completed without some damaged electronics. In my case two curlers, because as every girl with straight hair I want it curly.

Anyway, seems like my sink is rebelling after a year without use, and decided to dripped water from everywhere. The worst part is that this happened before, two years ago.

On the bright side after cleaning so much my room’s floor is impeccable.

Tornare a casa

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Dire che tornare è stato semplice, sarebbe una grande bugia. Ancora mi manca lo stilo de vita dell’uni. Ma chiudo gli occhi e ricordo che ho sentito lo stesso quando sono andata via dell’Italia. Tutti quelli posti che ho conosciuto, i miei amici, gli professori, tutto quello lo porto con me. Il mio cuore batte forte ogni volta che ricordo quei momenti, sembra che fosse ieri, ma no, sono due anni che ho finito il mio erasmus e una settimana che hanno finito le lezioni a Yale. 

So che non mi manca niente a casa. Ma c’e con me quel sentimento di lasciare una parte del mio cuore di là. Subito un giorno mi manca parlare l’italiano e l’inglese. Ma quando ero là mi mancava lo spagnolo. Sarà la mia natura, un po capricciosa, che sempre li manca quello che non può avere nel momento. Boh. 

Dove vivrò nel futuro? Non lo so. Ma non mi dispiacerebbe tornare a quelle città dove una versione più giovane di me ha vissuto, cresciuto e imparato tantissimo. E casa? Amo il Messico, ma ho sete di avventura, di conoscere il mondo, di viaggiare, di essere leggera come il vento. Che imprevedibile, magari quello è lo bello e tragico del futuro.

A dopo i miei cari lettori!

When it all went wrong

I may be a dramatic character. As a matter of fact, at Yale I was given the following adjectives: colorful, vivacious, dramatic, and warm. I embrace them all shamelessly. Yale is a wonderful place, but as everything in this world is not perfect. The YVISP batch arrives so enthusiastic just to be reminder that even in this magical place things can go wrong. And that’s not bad, is just life.

There are two ways things can go wrong: emotionally and academically. I briefly encountered both. In this entry I am going to focus on the latter. We arrive with a different mentality and used to another system. But after the first assignment, call it paper, reading response, or pset the skies suddenly turned grey. From where I come from you do an effort and you get an excellent grade. But that’s not the way Yale functions. Is very rare that you’ll get an excellent grade in the first assignment, at least in my area. The idea is that you just enter the course and you haven’t learn the abilities or knowledge to get an excellent grade.

However, there is a difference: if the Professor hands in your paper telling you that it was great, then you are in the right path but the semester just begun. If the Professor just hands in your paper without saying something or without a nice note (“Go see a writing tutor” doesn’t count) then it was not good. No matter which case you encounter, don’t panic! This is not the end.

The first semester I was shocked, I worked 15 hours on my paper and the grade I was given was disappointing. Later on I learned that you can always get better and the grading system is extremely tough in the beginning and tough in the end. My recommendations are: go to the writing center, get a writing partner, talk to your academic advisor, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Seriously, the reason we go to college is to learn. So, chin up and get to work!

Surveilling Frida Kahlo’s dark side

Dedicated to my good friend Dani Salka, who happens to love Frida as much as I do.

What would you do if your most intimate feeling was revealed to everyone? If the most painful moment of your life was on display for everyone to see and judge? We are constantly reading tweets, articles, and posts about celebrities and politicians, about their outfits, mistakes, dates, and companions. However, surveillance has a gender dimension that is usually forgotten by critics. Women tend to appear more on news, tabloids, and TV. This tendency seems to be a continuation of social criticism, as Canadian researcher Kristy Robertson points out women are usually the ones targeted by surveillance. The reason behind the gendered surveillance is that men are the ones watching.

Criticism about how women should behave reaches artists too. Even if an artist’s life was controversial revealing his/her most personal issues and putting them on display is an abuse of surveillance. A specific example would be a post-mortem display of painful objects from Frida Kahlo’s life. Kahlo is one of the best-known Mexican artists. She was a surrealist painter. She was born in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1907 and passed away in 1954. Aside from being a famous artist with exhibitions in New York, Paris and a Vogue spread, her lifestyle transformed her into a well-known celebrity. Her life was controversial because of her relationships, her friends, and her health issues.

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VOGUE COVER 1938/ HARRY SCHEIHING

The painter had a turbulent marriage with the famous Muralist Diego Rivera, whom she married and divorce twice. She befriended people that shared her political views or artistic passions, like Leon and Natalia Trotsky, Pablo Picasso, Andre Breton, Dorothy Hale, and Marcel Duchamp. Through her paintings she found a way to release her suffering from contracting polio, losing her leg, and hurting her spine in a bus accident.

The new exhibition at the “Blue house”, her former house and studio, provide voyeurs with another opportunity to gaze upon her intimate life. The “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” exhibition was launched in November of this year at La Casa Azul Museum in Mexico City. Usually the museum exhibits her artwork and some of her skirts, shoes, and jewelry, but now it has integrated a Jean Paul Gaultier corset that is similar to the one Kahlo used as well as a prosthetic leg with the boot she used after her right leg was amputated.

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This exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s personal objects uses surveillance as a marketing strategy to attract visitors. Emotions cannot be objects of the surveillance gaze, but physical objects trying to represent emotions can. The strategy used is to display the Mexican artist’s pain. The curator built or asked others to recreate the sort of objects that she wouldn’t actually put on display. Attracting public through voyeuristic view not to for her talent as an artist.

In the particular example of Kahlo’s wardrobe, surveillance is a misleading advertisement. The objects are exposed with the initial intention of helping the viewer to understand the message in her paintings but in reality are exposing the dark, intimate side of a woman’s long suffering. Art helps humans to express their anxieties, feelings, and pains. The artists are the ones that decide what to exhibit. Each spectator connects in a different way with visual art. Kahlo is known for portraying suffering, love, and indigenous elements.

Building objects, like her corset and prosthetic leg, is an invasion of her privacy. The revelation of the darkest moments of her life is a cheap and sensationalist way to sell tickets. Curator Circe Henestrosa did this instead of relying on her legacy to the art world. On an interview for the New York Daily News she said:

“Her way of dressing was the result of her strong sense of identity, an identity built from physical pain” – Henestrosa

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This exhibition uses surveillance as a marketing strategy in a disrespectful and tacky way. Because someone is dead does not mean that it is acceptable to sell her pain. Just because she was an artist does not give others the right to profit from her private life. The new objects exhibition’s purpose is to connect the audience with the artist’s pain and how she expressed it through her paintings. However, the purpose is distorted when it causes sensationalism about her provocative life instead of linking the emotions with her art. Today’s society has taken for granted that artists deserve personal privacy as well. We see this phenomenon everyday at the news, tabloids, and TV.

References

“Frida Kahlo.” (2012). Bio. True Stoy. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/frida-kahlo-9359496?page=1

Frida Kahlo Fans. (2008). “Gallery of Paintings by Year. ” Retrieved from http://www.fridakahlofans.com/paintingsyear01.html

Frida Kahlo Fans. (2008). “Vogue Cover. ” Retrieved from http://www.fridakahlofans.com/paintingsyear01.html

Garrido, E. (2012, November 26th).  “Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe goes on exhibit in Mexico City.” NY Daily News. Retrieved from http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-11-26/news/35370731_1_circe-henestrosa-casa-azul-frida-kahlo

Museo Frida Kahlo. (2012). “La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Universe.” Retrieved from http://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/EluniversointimoINGLES.html

Robertson, K. (2008). “Try to Walk With the Sound of my Footsteps: the Surveillant Body in Contemporary Art.” The Communication Review. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group. 11: 24-41.

This post was originally published in the blog “Yale Students on Sousveillance” http://sousveillanceatyale.blogspot.mx

Brief recap of my year at Yale

I had amazing classes, and readings. But above everything I met amazing human beings. What I cherish the most is my relationship with my professors and friends.

I shopped classes for two weeks every semester, I won the hunger games (aka getting into classes), I studied every day, I wrote 14 papers, did 7 midterms and 8 finals.

I learned new vocabulary at brunch: tailgate, pre game, study break, kiki, rave, hookup, God quad, and blackout.

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I dressed fancy for Spider ball. I dressed tacky for tap night. And I refused to dress up for Halloween.

I fell in love. I got my heart broken. I fell in love again. I regret nothing.

I made friends for the first time. I lost some friends. I made new friends. I’ve never felt so loved in my life.

I went to the best bars and restaurants in New Haven. I also went to Toad’s. The best feature about them was my friends’ company.

I partied every weekend, I danced every day, and I loved every minute.

I performed 8 times in front of a live audience, I tried new things, and I sticked with my dance team.

I cried a few times, but I laughed a lot more.

I fell too many times, but I stood up every single time.

I received two main lessons this year:

1) If you want to do something, fight for it. Everything else are excuses.

2) Success is measured in how much satisfaction you get and the impact on the community your actions have, not in grades or money.

Defining a Yvisper

Who are the Yvispers? We are friendly creatures going to the same classes like you, the difference is that we at Yale just for a year. The Y-VISP was created last year in 2011-2012. The name stands for Yale Visiting International Student Program. We are just the second generation. The YVISP demography varies in ages although we are register as juniors. A particular characteristic that we all share is that we love to blend in. We are in your science class, your art class, we tried out for sports, dance groups, cheerleading, and singing groups. We got to the same parties, we play in the IMs, we participate in tailgates, SAC, student organizations, and Master’s teas.

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We all heard at least once: “I didn’t know that this program existed!” “What is the YVISP?” “Do you mean that you are an exchange student?” “For how long has Yale accepted exchange students?”

We love to talk about the program and brag about it. Each of the yvispers has a different profile, personality, and background. We complement each other and we represent the program in each activity and class we are involved. The academic year of 2012-2013 we come from three universities: Tec de Monterrey in Mexico, the University of Hong Kong, and the National University of Singapore.

Seeing us all together during dinner is like seeing an international loving family, we are so loud because we love each other, we asked each other about our week and classes, and we go to each other’s performances, galleries, shows, and games. Being around us is like being at a party were you know everyone! We all have so much to share with each other. If you happen to be around, at our table you can hear around four different languages: English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin. However, in total the group is able to communicate in eight languages.

Even with the excitement of being at Yale, which includes wearing our Yale gear every time we can, there are also some issues. Including the way our name or last name is written. Being an unknown program can be hard, it confuses people when you tell them that you are a junior at some college, because by now students know their class pretty well. Also we want to apply to things, like capped classes, fellowships, internships, it is not clear to which opportunities we are considered and for which we are not. Some Professors are very enthusiastic of having us because we are a gust of fresh air, but some can’t lets us in their class because other students emailed them two semesters ago or because we need a particular pre-requisite.

Our time here just finished. But is not too late to get to know the program! The one-year Yale experience is wonderful; interacting with our classmates, college peers, Professors, and Grad Students has brought so much into our lives. From my own experience knowing that my friends from Branford, JE, Sabrosura, Danceworks, Cheer team, LASO, and YMSO are always going to offer me to sit with them in the Dhall, to go out with them, and say hi to me every single time is priceless. The next generation of YVISP is so lucky to get to know all of our friends, your passion and energy is inspiring. This August keep an eye on the yvispers, the group is going to be larger, more diverse, but equally friendly.

Welcome to my blog! I'm a Mexican PR specialist, I have a BA in International Relations and I'm an alumna from Tec, UCSC & Yale. I love to travel and write that's why this blog is trilingual. Twitter @MonArreola