The 6 best travel Instagram accounts to follow

You know you have a serious case of wanderlust when your friend’s sunset-over-airplane-wing Instagram picture just isn’t doing it for you. Instead of creeping through your friends’ old study abroad pictures for the thousandth time, here are some of the best Instagram accounts to follow for a feed full of fresh travel inspiration to fawn over.

1. @NYTimesTravel: Follow the New York Times Travel account for pictures of global food, culture, architecture and landscapes. NYT Travel’s coolest feature is its short video snapshots called “36 hours in,” which give you a feel for a different city in each post. You’ll definitely add more cities to your bucket list after going through these videos.

For full post, click here.

Picture source:

The Flip Side of Studying Abroad: What the Brochures Won’t Tell You

You’ve seen the brochures. You’ve obsessed over a frenemy’s Facebook pictures. Traveling to a foreign location is very well may be on everyone’s college bucket list. But there’s a lot more to studying abroad than fancy beach getaways and double-tap-worthy selfie opportunities. Here are some things to consider before diving into an international excursion:

You may not get along with all of the students on the trip. 
Depending on your program, you may be traveling and/or living with students who aren’t from your normal group of friends; they may not even be your age or from your school. While many students come back from study abroad trips with great new friendships, there’s a chance you won’t click with your group.

For full post, click here.

Picture source:

5 Documentaries You Need to Watch After Blackfish

Chances are you’ve watched Blackfish, the thrilling and highly controversial documentary about the lives of performing killer whales. This incredibly passionate film touched millions of viewers. Its message was so influential that the state of California proposed legislation that would make it illegal to hold orca whales in captivity for display or breeding. If you’re new to the genre of documentaries, here are five other films to put at the top of your must-watch list:

1. The Cove (2009)
What it’s about: Filmed covertly in Taiji, Japan, against the wishes of the local government, The Cove exposes the massive dolphin trade and the slaughter and inhumane treatment the animals are subjected to. Before this movie, Japanese locals were unaware of the high-mercury contaminated dolphin meat that they regularly ate. The deplorable condition of dolphins in captivity is something most people around the world are still unaware of.

Why you should care: Aquariums, zoos, and dolphin performance shows are things we’re all familiar with and have come to know and love; however, unbeknownst to many, when we choose to buy tickets, we’re also supporting and actively voting for the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals that are often forcibly taken into captivity from their natural habitat. Watch The Cove, and you won’t ever want to be part of the fuel for this demand again.

For full post, click here.

Picture source:

What Your Preferred Social Network Says About You

The plethora of social media networks available these days is mind-boggling — and your choice to participate in each of these unique communities can say a lot about your real-life personality. Which one of these addictive apps and websites do you find yourself spending the most time on?

1. Instagram: You consider yourself a pretty artsy, interesting person and may be in need of validation every now and then. You know in your heart that the eleventh post of that #nofilter sunset, the fifth post of your sushi dinner tagged with #foodporn, and the sixth consecutive post of your boyfriend as your #MancrushMonday, are pure, double-tap-worthy gold. Yet, you still experience slight anxiety as you wait for the number of hearts to slowly creep up. Instagram brings out the narcissist in many of us. But don’t worry because we all forgive you, especially when your new puppy shows up on our newsfeed to make our day.

For full post, click here.

Picture source:

Why I take issue with most Indian Soap Operas’ treatment of women

My home has a lot of Hindi TV playing, and through the many hours and seasons, I’ve noticed (and have becomes especially frustrated) with certain disturbing trends in the majority of the television shows that are so widely viewed and loved by its audience.

Indian serials perpetuate a Madonna-Whore complex. In brief, the Madonna-Whore complex is this notion that women exist only on two opposite poles: one is the celebrated “Madonna,” the symbol of all that is pure, chaste, virtuous, soft-spoken, meek, etc. while the other is the scorned “Whore,” embodying the opposite. In most Indian soap operas, the main female protagonist is loved and admired because of a few choice characteristics: modesty, humility, loyalty, unquestioning subservience to the elders of her home, and the ability to quietly tolerate any and all hardship without protest; in short, is the archetypical Madonna. The female antagonist, on the other hand, is written to be loathed for her ambition, outspokenness, and/or desire to challenge the traditional hierarchical family structure. She almost always dresses in a less demure way than the female lead, and has more jarring makeup. She may have had a *gasp* divorce, is married a second time, or is a young woman who plans on snatching away the female lead’s man.

This dichotomy is so infuriating, because it’s perpetuated in show after show, episode after episode, as the antagonist female’s independence, self-reliance, and outspokenness is demonized in the face of the protagonist’s subservient/maternal/tolerating nature. The few times a female lead begins to take a more proactive, non-passive role is when her family’s honor is at stake– which is very noble and honorable I guess, but we never see her do the same for herself. Indian serials need to stop glorifying this over the top, self-sacrificing nature that reinforces the idea that a woman’s only role is to serve others around her. We need more female protagonist characters that seek out success for themselves. 

Indian serials’ female characters’ entire lives revolve solely around acquiring/serving the significant male figure in their life. Indian culture is obsessed with marriage. The central theme of the majority of the Hindi serials on air right now is either the struggle to get married, or the struggle to maintain a marriage. And we get it. Yes, marriage is a milestone in life–but it’s not the sole reason for existence.

In a similar strain to my previous point, women in Hindi T.V. serials need to be more independent– not just from a character’s standpoint of being financial and emotional independence, but from the writer’s point as well. A sort of litmus test: Her character should be complex and developed enough that if you take out the significant male characters from her life, she can still stand as a believable character and  complete human being, instead of an empty shell of dependent emotions and responses to the actions of those around her. If she can’t, then the character is too weak to even put into the story. Give her as complex of a backstory as the male lead. Write her a history, a reputation, that doesn’t solely revolve around her past romantic interests.

Hindi television’s main problem is that it lacks not only protagonist strong women to begin with, but is completely devoid of complex women. This quote has been making rounds on Tumblr, and I feel it perfectly encapsulates the crux of my argument.

“Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. They are all ok, and all those things could exist in the same woman. ” –Lori

More excellent commentary on the role of females in media (not just in Indian media, but in general) can also be found here and here