July 16, 2012 by Kristina Venieri
As college students in the 21st century, I think we can all agree how vital technology and the Internet has been to shaping our outlook on life. Everything should be easy, fast, and convenient. If it’s not, then we probably don’t want to be bothered with it. Our primary mode of communication? – texting. Think about it – when was the last time you talked on the phone with someone under the age of 40 (a generously arbitrary number since our parents still prefer to hear our voice every now and then).
I just read an article about the increasing use of technology in the classroom, with over 90% of teachers reporting they have computers in the classroom. The cartoon pictures of elementary school kids naturally led me to recall how frequently, or infrequently, we used computers during my K-5 years. With computers still an exciting tool, we would all look forward to media class during which we would play math games on the computer and learn to type without looking. It was an especially exciting media day if we were allowed to play Oregon Trail for the first ten minutes.
Those days are gone. Not just for our generation, but Generation Z and those to follow. Never mind practicing typing on those computational keypads (so annoying that you couldn’t see your entire document). Nowadays, kids play Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja instead of connect the dots and color inside the line drawings to pass the time.
When I think of college education, I certainly agree that students should be integrating various technology and software into their learning programs. It’s important to excel at common programs used in daily business – we know how vital Microsoft Suite is to following along in that “Computers in Business” class. But is it also necessary for K-5 students to learn math problems from a PowerPoint slide, have access to calculators, dictionaries and hundreds of irrelevant non-educational applications on tablets, and use etextbooks to read daily lessons? Some days, I feel overloaded with the abundance of technology available at my fingertips. I already type all my papers, do most of my research, communicate with friends, professors and other school departments, buy textbooks, listen to music, read news, and network all on my computer. There are so many distractions on the computer, from scrolling through pictures, playing games, and of course – the Internet, it’s almost a miracle I didn’t get side-tracked while writing this. But alas, there are some choices I make to avoid the severe infiltration of technology in our lives.
Thus far, I have deferred getting a smartphone. Sure to change soon, as I have begun to succumb to wanting access to every part of my life (all those important emails and notifications) at my fingertips. I take hand-written notes (which actually reinforces what you’ve learned better than typing notes). I keep an assignment book, and don’t rely on iCal to tell me when my paper is due. I avoid checking my phone during meals, and certainly turn it off on dates. I still print directions because I like to know where I’m going before I get there.
What am I embarrassingly guilty of? Carrying my phone with me everywhere around the house. Using my cell as an alarm clock in the morning. Not having a regular watch. Relying on music when I go for a run. Checking the weather five times a day to plan ahead. Asking Siri silly questions on my sister’s iPhone. Texting, rather than calling, friends to make plans.
Imagine a world where K-12 students are required to have iPads or other tablets instead of filling their school desks with pencils and crayons. It’s coming soon to a school near you. As we increasingly turn to technology for the most basic daily functions, I fear for ours and future generations’ ingenuity, creativity, fitness and social skills. As important and prevalent as technology is in our daily lives, I’m not convinced that young children should be so highly exposed in the classroom and jeopardize their excitement in hearty child’s play.
April 4, 2012 by Kristina Venieri
With all the hustle and bustle of college life, (and especially as W&M students) we hardly have any time to ourselves. Constantly on the go, running from one team meeting to rehearsal, from sports practices to work, from studying at Swem to a research lab. Between office hours and extracurriculars, who has time to just relax?
It’s invigorating! Even nearing the balmy summer months, the Williamsburg heat takes a break in the evenings. The cool air is refreshing and energizing—perfect to get a little energy back in my step.
It’s relaxing. Regardless of where I wander to, it’s away from any immediate tasks. Everything will be waiting, ready for my attention when I get back to work, but for the moment, I can enjoy meandering around campus, strolling down DoG street.
It’s inspiring. Ever think, “When did it get so green?” “Were those flowers always there?” I find myself admiring nature’s beauty more and more as Williamsburg enters spring in full throttle. If teeny, tiny little seeds can become blossoming flowers, I’m pretty sure I can handle a marketing plan.
I want to share this beautiful spot that I found it to be invigorating, relaxing, and inspiring. Ever since, I’ve been looking for wisteria everywhere I go, and have spotted it along the Crim Dell, by the Williamsburg Library, and aways near CW. There’s a place for everyone to relax, where’s yours?
July 20, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
Other than wearing a much too billowy skirt on an unexpectedly breezy day, today is what I would call a successful day in Firenze. It included lots and lots of window shopping, getting ideas for gifts and where I can get them; a delicious, meaty sandwich (I often crave meat since there’s so much PASTA here); and of course getting lost (which means I got to see a part of Florence I haven’t seen yet)! After so much shopping and walking around the outdoor markets, my apartment seemed farther away than I seemed to remember. But now for some pictures, which I dedicate to my Wind Symphony friends…
The first is choral book on display in a chapel at Santa Croce. It’s a beautiful church and I can only imagine the grand chorales that have been performed there.
The second is an impromptu saxophone quartet performing in a piazza for diners and passersby.
Next to that is a line of drummers during il Palio in Siena. The parade before the actual horse race is filled with each contrada’s (township) flags and marchers dressed in medieval clothes. It was quite a sight to see.
The second row starts with a picture of Simple Minds performing outside at Piazza della Repubblica on the fourth of July. It was a last minute to decision to check out the Hard Rock Cafe concert, but it was fun to hang out outside.
The fifth picture is of, of course, a piano that’s tucked away in a back room at one of my new favorite restaurants in Florence. Considering the classy piano and sophisticated atmosphere, I was surprised to hear pop music over dinner.
This next picture is one of my favorites. It’s an entire orchestra made out of Murano glass statuettes. Of course I checked out the flute player figurine since that is my main instrument.
I decided to include the last picture because it combines the old and new. It’s of a music conservatory nestled in Siena.
July 18, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
We just got back from our weekend in Venice, during which there happened to be fireworks right by Piazza San Marco. “I don’t know why, but I just love fireworks!” said one of my roommates while dodging her head around to get the best view possible. I think most of us appreciate fireworks for their grandiosity and limited amount of shows we see. Not only are firework shows far and few, the fireworks themselves are one of a kind. That specific design that you see burst open into the sky, will only ever happen once, and you just witnessed it. How amazing is that?! Each chemical combustion is a piece of art in itself, and lasts for a moment in time. The beauty of fireworks is their uniqueness, whether fiery red, cool blue, garden green, royal purple, lightening white, they’re all variations of a model, never quite the same as the one before it.
While I was watching them explode, I thought about my friend’s comment, asking myself why it is that I like fireworks (I used to be terrified of them!). We marvel at fireworks for their instantaneity, their brief beauty. Fireworks are like life, every second, every experience, different from the last one. No matter how hard you try to repeat it-getting a cappuccino at your favorite cafe, eating gelato in the nearby piazza, or grabbing a pizza across town (I realize these are all food related, what can I say…I’m in EATaly!), the memory can never be recreated. And that’s the beauty of life. Every moment is different and unique, inviting new friendships and laughter, tastes and sights all the time. So let’s enjoy fireworks and appreciate every moment for what it is, just a small piece of life.
July 15, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Italy for four weeks now, and have been to eight different towns/cities already and have more to visit before the end of my next three weeks! Here’s just a taste of Italy for you all…
Italy has been unbelievable-I’ve learned so much about Italian culture and history, but also have been able to take a reflective view of the U.S. I’m taking a history class in Florence that has opened my eyes to the good, the bad and the ugly of Italy and made me appreciate what we have at home. There’s much to be learned outside the classroom, too (one of the most important for navigation and daily survival has been learning to differentiate between the sounds of a scooter and car coming up from behind, so you can either keep on walking or jump to the sidewalk)!
Yesterday I went into a small handmade leather shop that sells leather covered books, journals, wallets, purses, portfolio folders, bracelets and things I don’t know how to describe. I was chatting with the owner, he’s asking what kinds of things I’ve been up to in Florence. So he tells me, “Do it all, do everything, there are no mistakes when you’re young!” At first I kind of brushed it off as just another sentence, a conversation exclamation point, but maybe he’s right. I don’t ever want to look back, especially on my time here, and say to myself, “I wish I had done that, I should have done more.” (So far I’m in the clear!) Live life to the fullest, that’s what they all tell us. Take advantage of every opportunity! So now I ask: Are there such things as mistakes this early in life as long as we learn from them? It’s all how we look at it later in life, but I think he was on to something…
June 15, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
Amazing fall foliage, sweet and sticky apple picking, pumpkin patches, snowy beaches, sleigh rides down main street, cross country skiing before the plows get on the roads, honeysuckle, sea salted summers, fresh apple crisp, crossing state boundaries, train whistles in the night, soft pattering of snow, thunderstorms and currents of rain, vegetable gardens, fields of crocus, fresh cut grass, DIY home projects, knitted blankets, water color paintings, crocheted table cloths, Victorian towers, window seat benches, stone mansions, garden cottages, evening strolls, concerts in the park, town carnivals, barbeques at the beach, local auto-shows, fresh lobster, veggie stand, lunch on the water, sailboats, lighthouses, breeze at night, clotheslines, telephone wires, ski lodges, maple syrup, modern art galleries and antique shops, clam chowder, parades, clam bake, picnics and ice cream shops.
June 12, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
If that’s the worst that happens when the power goes out, I really don’t mind. While the power had been off all afternoon, it wasn’t til nightfall that the effects really set in.
For starters, the street was completely quiet, at least for a little while. The air was so still I could hear the train rumbling along its tracks downtown. Every house on the block was dark, neighborhood kids swinging lanterns around in their yard. Car headlights suddenly seemed to glare, abruptly interrupting the calm darkness. The cycle of generators began, one turning on every few hours, disrupting the evenings mystery.
No tv, no radio, no computer. Initially I argued I could still use my laptop, but deemed it unnecessary for the night. I just couldn’t bring myself to open the high tech rectangle and stare into a sterile white light. I much preferred the softness of my candle light. So yes, that means my initial copy of this was written with a pen and paper by the light of a flashlight and flickering candle, while enjoying the sweet smell of honeysuckle wafting through the window mixing with the cool melon candle.
As far as making dinner went,
1) I was so glad we have a gas stove; No pb&j sandwiches for us!
2) Thank goodness I printed those recipes the night before
3) At least it was light out until after dinner
May 20, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
Blueberries. They’re definitely nature’s candy. Sweet, tangy. Round. Just pop ‘em in. One of the few foods that are blue. Blueberries are a delectable treat that are so underrated. Simply tossed in pancake batter, casually assumed to be in muffins. But the best is straight from the carton, or even better–the bush.
February 15, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate song for this time of life than what my roommate is playing right now, “Reach for the Stars” by S Club 7. A retro pick from a decade ago, but perfectly timed. With prospects of studying abroad over the summer and meeting up with friends also abroad in Europe, the world is ours to explore. College is definitely a time for trying new things, and what better way to try new things than in a foreign country! The past few weeks back at school have been a whirlwind of class after class, meeting after meeting, rehearsals, office hours, labs and visits to Swem that there’s barely been any time to think about anything but the here and now. But tomorrow is always coming soon, bringing with it the looming deadline to declare majors and summer study abroad applications.
Other than feeling incredibly optimistic about what the future holds, reflecting on the recent past proves to be gratifying as well. In case you didn’t notice, it was nearly 70 degrees today and the Sunken Gardens looked like a beach in the middle of June. It’s days like this that I’m glad I came down to Virginia for college rather than staying in the Northeast where there are still mountains of snow on Boston campuses. With an awesome weekend full of cooking homemade pasta, chipotle run, strolling the farmer’s market, and brunching with amazing friends behind me, an equally exciting weekend is coming up (as well as a sure to be busy yet satisfying week).
In celebration of the beautiful weather and Valentine’s Day, enjoy these flowers!
January 12, 2011 by Kristina Venieri
Winter Weather Warning. Snow Advisory. Storm Watch. At home, this means packed grocery stores and traffic the day before the predicted snow. Pre-determined school cancellations, filling up the snow blowers, digging out the shovels from the garage. Oh and don’t forget to take the ice scraper out of your car the night before, or else you’ll find a nice pile of snow on your seat upon opening the car door in the morning.
Black Ice. Gusts of Wind. Blizzard Warning. No question, there’s no leaving the house for at least a day. Run to the library before it closes, get a few books, movies, check the hot chocolate stash. Make sure you have plenty of salt to cover the ice the next day.
Accumulations of 10-16 inches. Severe Weather. Pull out the hat, warm gloves, snow pants, boots, cuz this means you’ll be shoveling for at least an hour at a time, at least twice, but probably more. Forget seeing friends, driving isn’t even an option. If you want to cross country ski down main street, you’ll be the only one there.
When the snow starts, everything is quiet. The trees stand still for just a minute, letting the white flakes rest on their branches, even if only for a minute. The wind takes a break and the snow floats down to houses and fences and yards. Street lamps illuminate the dancing specks in the air. The town is still; for now, there’s no where to be but home. The bustle will begin soon enough.