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Rea-lity Check | Help peers proactively

(04/09/10 7:20am)

It’s impossible to ignore the recent string of suicides at our fellow institutions. Two suicides occurred last month at Cornell University, a Yale University junior took his life last week and a Penn student reportedly committed suicide last fall. I could quote statistics about how many students attempt or succeed at suicide. Or I could talk about how Penn’s campus is a stressful environment. The Daily Beast ranked us fourth out of “50 Most Stressful Colleges” and shamelessly used Cornell’s recent tragedies to illustrate the effects of a “pressure-cooker environment.” But statistics can be misleading and linking stress to suicide is another way to sensationalize the act rather than to offer proactive information.

Rea-lity Check | Technology is just a tool

(04/02/10 7:49am)

Here are some important facts about me: I A. don’t have a smart phone, B. don’t have a Mac and C. still take handwritten notes in class. And fine, I’ll admit that every single app on my iPod touch (except Tap Tap) was downloaded by my 12-year-old sister. My sister also informed me that it could surf the web — something I learned after months of using it. Needless to say, I don’t consider myself particularly tech savvy.

Rea-lity Check | Sit back and relax

(01/15/10 10:15am)

Everyone pushes themselves to the limit during finals, and I’m no exception. I happened to get bronchitis this year as sort of an added bonus. I scheduled my flight home for a few hours after my last final. After taking that final, I threw some clothes into a suitcase, dragged myself to the airport, through security, up to my gate and collapsed in a heap. At home I slept almost endlessly and tried to keep my cough under control so my parents wouldn’t worry about me lapsing into pneumonia.

Katherine Rea | Texting tactfully

(12/04/09 11:49am)

A few weeks ago, I was comfortably hidden (or so I thought) in the back of Leidy Labs 10, a lecture hall that seats hundreds, responding to my friend’s story of weekend drama via text. I’ve always considered myself to be polite, so I was shocked when the lecturer unabashedly called me out for texting. While it’s always rough getting called out, it’s usually for good reason. I hadn’t considered my divided attention in that context to be rude, but I was incredibly embarrassed.

Katherine Rea | Accessing medication

(11/13/09 9:32am)

This week, an enormous achievement quietly flew under the radar of most college newspapers. After years of work, six universities — including Penn, Harvard and Yale — committed to make desperately needed medicines more accessible to developing countries. The implications of this commitment could be increased access to high-demand medications in HIV-ridden countries, as well as increased research for little-understood tropical diseases — transforming millions of lives in the world’s poorest countries.

Katherine Rea | Keeping it close to home

(10/30/09 5:02am)

With advanced registration just a little over a week away, mock schedule mania has begun. Alumni, professors and fellow students extol the virtues of taking random, interesting-looking classes — and with good reason. Languages and regional, religious and gender courses give students the chance to see the world from a different perspective, offering topics that the average Penn student has never encountered. Testimonials abound from those who took a class on a whim, only to find a deep and lasting passion for the subject. But while it’s fun to surf Penn InTouch for the most unique class out there, it’s not narrow-minded to discount interesting subjects closer to your personal identity.

Katherine Rea | Dropping the spirit stick

(10/23/09 7:40am)

This weekend, I met up with a friend — a Yale alumna, planning to go back to New Haven for The Game (Harvard vs. Yale). I never knew her to be a dedicated football fan, and asked why she was so excited to go. She replied that all the students, and most alumni only one or two years out, go to The Game, partly to see friends and support their team, but also for the giant tailgate. That got me thinking: We’re the Party Ivy! How is it that we don’t have a proper school tailgate?

Katherine Rea | Tracking changes everything

(10/09/09 8:00am)

Everyone loves things to be convenient, personalized and, if possible, both. Does this mean we’re lazy, spoiled and self-absorbed? Possibly. But like it or not, it’s become the norm to have services catered specifically to our needs. Suggestions for friends on Facebook, books from Amazon, music choices from Pandora and search terms on Google are all ways in which our needs get magically preempted by the faceless, amorphous Internet.