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Meg Wolitzer's book cover

Nic’s Picks: Winter Reading List

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There’s a chill in the air now, and while finals are a few weeks away, curl up with one of these books instead of prestressing about that project or test you’ll probably ace.

The Female Persuasion
Novel by Meg Wolitzer

After shy college freshman, Greer Kadetsky, is assaulted at a frat party, a friend introduces her to feminist icon, Faith Frank. Faith influences Greer to be less passive, more aggressive and to find her voice. After the two meet, they stay in close contact and Greer is offered a job at Faith’s newly formed feminist, girl-power driven publication. However, the company was formed with some shady funding and a mess of a PR team. Greer does what is right, and we follow not only her story, but Faith’s rise to fame. The perspective of Greer’s boyfriend Cory is also included, and how he drops his plans for a startup due to a family crisis shows that men can also have positive roles in feminism.

The Woman in the Window
Novel by AJ Finn

Anna Fox is a psychologist dealing with her own problems: her husband has left her and taken their daughter, and because of a traumatic incident, she is now a recluse and an alcoholic. Her only pleasures in life now include watching old films, counseling fellow agoraphobes online, and spying on her neighbors through her window. When a new, mysterious family moves in, Anna is intrigued by the fact that the son is incredibly sensitive, the husband is controlling, and the wife seems to be a figment of Anna’s imagination.
The novel, which is Finn’s debut, has at least three unexpected but still impressive twists. A movie based on this book is expected to be released next October.

Novel by Daniel Torday


This novel encompasses the millennial frustrations that are so common: lack of job prospects, housing, high cost of rent and the misconceptions that the baby boomers have about us. Former journalist, Mark, is upset with a lack of teaching positions due to baby boomers not retiring, so he heads from New York to his mother’s basement and begins a revolution online under an alias. He calls on his fellow millennials to create anarchy against the older generation, and chaos ensues. The novel shifts between Mark’s perspective, his ex-girlfriend Cassie, and his baby boomer mother as a way to show a counterpoint: Not all millennials like Cassie are struggling, and not all baby boomers are bad. The novel is exciting, well paced and amazingly written. Today really takes the idea of “showing, not telling” in writing to the extreme, which works great for the plot line.

Women at Google

Women in Computer Science and Engineering Strive for More Representation

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In the era of ‘girl power’, encouraging women to shatter glass ceilings and be their own bosses has become incredibly common. In some fields, such as engineering and computer science, there is a huge struggle to see women in visible roles. Women make up half of the total United States college educated workforce but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, according to statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project. They also received half of the degrees awarded in the biological science in the past year, and only 19.3% in engineering, and even less than that in computer science at 17.9%.

That’s where the Women in Computer Science and Engineering Club, or WICSE, comes in. Their goal, according to their website, is to bring women together who share common interests and support women dedicated to careers in the engineering field. Hosting guest speakers, conferences, and workshops, the club hopes to get women more involved in STEM positions.

Assistant professor Emily Hand is new to the College of Engineering this semester and is the faculty advisor for the club. Hand teaches computer science and engineering, and her research interests include computer vision and machine learning, which is the automation of vision for machines and how they can learn like a human, respectively.

The need for this research is incredibly important as automation becomes prevalent in the workforce. The university is also working to accommodate more engineers, with the creation of Great Basin Hall, a dorm for STEM majors, and the recent groundbreaking of the new William N. Pennington Engineering Building, projected to be finished in the summer of 2020.

Frances Vinlove is the treasurer for WICSE and works as a chair for the Programming Committee, Engineering Leadership Council, and works with students in the MESA program.

“I joined the club because I was looking to meet other computer science engineering people and to be in a leadership role, which I enjoy and thrive in,” Vinlove said.

The club attended the Grace Hopper Celebration for the past two years. It is a massive conference celebrating women in computing. Hosted by AnitaB.Org, a digital community for women founded by computer scientist Anita Borg, the goal of the conference is to envision a “future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for which they build it.”

“We also hosted the Most Significant Bit in April,” Vinlove said, “For the past four years, we invite middle school and high school girls to the campus, supply free food and swag, and they get to learn about computer science engineering in a fun environment with different activities.” Wanisha Holmes is the Events Coordinator for the club, and says that anyone who is interested in supporting WICSE can simply just attend one of their meetings; there is no previous engineering experience or major requirement to be a part of it.

“Women in this field are very rare, and being able to connect and share experiences with other women and help encourage them is an amazing thing,” said Holmes. She says that one thing she enjoys most about engineering is that the topic is constantly changing, and evolving and there is always “something fun and exciting that needs to be solved.”

However, being a female in a male-dominated profession comes with some drawbacks. Holmes says that women can face the challenge of not being good enough or smart enough to be in the field.

“Work hard and believe in yourself, no one can tell you you’re not good enough. Strive to be the best in the world at what you do and you will be unstoppable, is what advice I would give,” Holmes said.

If that isn’t inspiring in today’s challenging world for women, then what is?


rolls of money

Money Tips for College Students

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With a cost of $207 per credit hour at UNR (that’s before you even tack on all the other student fees), and the cost of living rising in the Reno area it’s no secret that it’s intimidating, stressful, and discouraging when you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for the next semester of college. It’s hard enough to just focus on school alone, but when you have to work three jobs just to pay your rent it can be easy to lose motivation and to want to drop out.

Looking back at my financial situation in college I know that my mom helped me out with the cost of some of my tuition each year, but other than that I’ve also had to work my a** off, and I know there’s a lot of you out there who do, too. At one point I was working close to 40 hours a week in between the three jobs I had, was taking out the max amount of loans available, and was eating spaghetti noodles with just salt and olive oil because I didn’t want to spend my money on more food. Gross.

However, as a senior I’ve learned some tricks of the trade when it comes to budgeting and saving on a tiny paycheck. I hope some of these tips help you with your financial situation and ease the stress that paying for school can have on you.

  1. Do the money in an envelope method. At the beginning of the month go to an ATM and take out a certain amount of money you’ll allow yourself to spend in a certain category. When the money is out it’s out, and you have to wait until the next month to spend money in that category again. For example I’ll have $20 in an “alcohol” envelope. If I spend all $20 the first weekend, I don’t allow myself to spend any more on drinks for the rest of the month forcing me to budget. This is great for small expenses that you don’t think add up to a large sum of money but do. I’d recommend having an envelope for alcohol/going out, groceries, gas, and eating out at restaurants. It can be depressing at first when you can’t afford to buy that fancy cheese at the grocery store, but it causes you to really only buy essentials and pocket your savings. Hey, if you have extra money at the end of the month, reward yourself and splurge on a fancy coffee or something.
  2. Shop at the 99 Cent Store. A lot of my friends make fun of me for shopping here, but honestly it’s a god sent. The 99 Cent Store is not ghetto or full of nasty old food, it’s full of fresh produce that’s overstock from regular grocery stores which allows for the huge price markdown. I like to do most of my grocery shopping here because they carry most items with the exception of groceries that obviously cost more than 99 cents like ground beef, chicken, or bulk items. They have a wide selection of fresh produce, frozen meals, and canned goods. Best of all, a lot of the brands are similar to those that can be found at more expensive grocery stores. Some trips to the 99 Cent Store leave me walking away with enough healthy and filling groceries that’ll last me the whole week for $20. The closest 99 Cent Store is just across from Meadowood Mall on Virginia Street — I recommend checking it out.
  3. Use the Mint App. Mint is awesome. It tracks your spending on all accounts and divides purchases up by category like fast food, groceries, gas, coffee shops, shopping, business services, and more, so you can see exactly where your money goes. Mint also keeps track of when your bills are due, how much money you’re taking in each month versus spending, and sends you alerts when you’ve gone over budget. The great thing about this app is it’s also customizable. You can set specific budgets that work with you and fit your lifestyle as Mint tracks when you’re getting close to say going over your monthly restaurant budget. Mint also calculates your net worth which is nice when you’re trying to figure out how much money you have total between savings, checking, and credit accounts. It also provides you with your credit score and alerts you when your score goes up or down and the reason why, so you can either continue to improve your score or make adjustments. The best part about Mint, it’s free to download and free to use. A lot of budgeting apps require a subscription or payment up front. Mint is 100% free to use at any time.
  4. Apply for scholarships. This one you’ve got to be persistent with. During my freshman and sophomore years I was extremely discouraged about applying for scholarships because I’d fill out so many applications with little to no return. However, if you can hang on until your junior or senior year and apply for major specific scholarships, there’s a whole pool of money waiting for you that not everyone has access to. I filled out the university scholarship application every year. You know, the one on MyNevada that’s always due before February 1st. For years I got nothing, but the second I actually became a journalism major instead of “pre-journalism” I received five scholarships. This year I received so many scholarships from UNR I actually got paid to go to school this semester which was a huge weight off my shoulders. Don’t think just because you didn’t get anything remarkable in the scholarship department your freshman year that it’s going to be like that forever.
Situationship banner

So, You’ve Found Yourself in a “Situationship”

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The Situation in “Situationships”

Everyone has had that awkward timing between being single and being in a relationship. A “situationship” you might call it. While these bits of time may be beneficial to your possible upcoming relationship, you must be able to pick out when these situations have gone sour.

To fully understand what it is like in this position, you have to hear all the viewpoints.

Karlie Trumbull, a Bay Area native, gave the lowdown on her experiences and how she picked out the “situationships” that went south.

Trumbull had been in two major “situationships,” but has since stayed single due to the lack of energy that was being returned in both. “One left me emotionally, mentally, and physically destroyed,” Trumbull said, “I was untrusting of everyone after him.” While Trumbull commented that she was happy being free, she still “misses innocent interactions that mean so much more than the sexual ones.”

Joshua Rush, a junior at Los Medanos College, has moved on from “situationships” and finally settled down in a real relationship. Rush and his girlfriend made their title official seven months ago. They started off as coworkers who became friends who became more.

Being in a relationship isn’t always like the movies. The petty arguments that spring from someone being in a bad mood is a downside to look forward to, according to Rush. But in the end, this couple knows they will work it out as long as they talk it out before falling asleep.

Michael Shaw and Melissa Vidal are two freshmen at the University of Nevada, Reno that are currently in a situationship with each other. Shaw describes their situation essentially as a relationship without the title.

Vidal explains that at the moment the two are just stuck because they feel it isn’t the right timing for either to be in a relationship. While they know their picture isn’t perfect, they both believe this “situationship” is benign to them.

“By having a situationship you’re able to have that one person you really love to be around while not having to exert the normal energy that you would in a normal relationship,” Shaw said.

“It’s beneficial for us because we are both on the same page but it’s rare when you can both agree with everything,” Vidal said. While the two have only been in this “situationship” for about a month, both have strong views on the pros and cons about it.

The pair agree that it’s desirable to have the flexibility of being single while also still have the emotional and physical support you would expect in a relationship.

While this may make the pair seem carefree, there is still strain because of the imbalance in emotion and physicality.

“You don’t get to have that normal relationship with all of the cliche traits like the formal dates, family functions, or simply just small gestures,” Shaw said. Vidal said that is what causes her the most distress is the fact that they’re still able to be with anyone they want due to the free nature of their situation.

As they move forward with what they have, the two predict how this may affect their romantic lives. “Moving forward I could only see the romantic elements improve because there really isn’t too much stress or questionable variables,” Shaw said.

Vidal commented more specifically on their “situationship.” “Basically, we aren’t going to be able to stay like this forever. Sooner or later we’ll have to either move forward or move on,” she said.

While Shaw and Vidal work hard to make their situation as unproblematic as possible, this is not always the case. So what should you do if you find yourself in a “situationship” gone south?

“Confront them on why you aren’t official and if they give even the slightest excuse: run!” Trumbull said. “If you have the option, take it slow get to know them then see if there’s a relationship there and if there isn’t you still have a friend,” Rush said.

Shaw suggests not to stay in something that doesn’t make you happy because in the long run, it’s not worth it. “It’s not worth the stress, it’s barely worth the stress now. Drop the bum,” Vidal declared. Romance is confusing, whether you’re in a relationship, single, or still figuring it out. The best advice is to do what feels best for you, mentally and physically.

Apartment Building in England

An American in England: Dealing With The Differences

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I remember writing pessimistically at eighteen about the things I had yet to accomplish and how I never saw myself reaching the day I would. I was overwhelmed by my decision of attending college in the fall. I felt that college was a pause and not a stepping stone to a brilliant future. I thought about all of the people I read biographies and memoirs on and compared my life at eighteen to theirs. I wasn’t a struggling artist or someone’s muse. I wasn’t moving across the country in the name of rebellion or forming a band. I was just doing what was expected after graduating high school. I had other ideas, though. I dreamt of traveling the world; I wanted to meet the rats of New York, have a drink in an English pub, run down the streets of Spain, and lead an extraordinary life full of creativity and travel. I wanted to live a life worth writing about. Though at the time I felt that college was getting in the way, it was actually granting me opportunities. Thanks to college, I’m studying abroad today. Writing to you from London, England. My home for the school year.

I decided to study abroad the spring of my freshman year. I sat in my dorm with my friends one night and I mentioned that I wanted to go on holiday and do something different with my life for awhile, but I couldn’t because school postponed my plans until graduation. My friends suggested I look into study abroad. I grabbed my laptop and started scrolling through the programs USAC offered to students. I saw that England was one of the options. It was then I decided that studying abroad was going to happen. I told them it was meant to be. I chose England because I had always been fascinated by our common language, but vast difference in culture. Also, The Beatles (my favorite band) were from England. There were four options in England, but I chose London. I figured it I was going to do this thing, I had to do right and go to the city where things happen. I couldn’t wait to join the London groove.

This “London groove” has been harder to join than I expected. I underestimated the differences and thought I was going to have the confidence I have in the states, in England. The United States and England share the same language, but share nothing else. Coming here for school, I was aware of the grading differences, but I figured the rest was nothing to be thrown off by. Since freshman year, I have studied in Reno and have gotten to understand how UNR runs its campus. Studying abroad is like being a college freshman again. You have to learn a whole new routine, understand a new campus, meet different people, and ask basic questions all over again. Below are the differences and similarities I’ve noted between London Metropolitan University and the University of Nevada, Reno.

  1. The Look: Reno has given UNR its own area in the city and because of the strip of buildings and dorms, UNR is a community and Reno has become a college town. London Met is just a few buildings tucked between the streets of London. Barely squeezing it. I can’t blame them, though. This can be seen in other major cities in the world like New York and San Francisco. Universities become buildings that blend with the rest of the city’s landscape.
  2. Class Locations: At London Met, we don’t really have college specific buildings. We have one main building where all classes take place. It’s a large and confusing building, but everything can be found! I’ve been enrolled for a month now, but I still have trouble finding my English class in the mornings.
  3. Class Times: Your class is only once a week and three hours long. I have one class a day, but for three hours that consists of lecture, break, and exercises or more discussion. Though it sounds terrible compared to our fifty minute lectures, it’s not too bad if you have a passionate instructor/professor who engages the class.
  4. The Professors: After some misleading research online, I thought my professors and instructors were going to be dismissive and unwilling to help. Fortunately, my professors/instructors are kind and willing to help. Like UNR, they encourage you to visit them during their office hours. I’ve only spotted two major differences: they’re much quieter and a bit more reserved.
  5. Workload and Expectations: Weekly quizzes and assignments aren’t really a thing at London Metropolitan. If we do have an assignment, it’s mostly just for practice and we have a week to do it. It sounds easy and peaceful, but it’s actually more arduous than it seems. Reading is critical and required. You must read a great amount of texts per week and per class. Though you’re not being tested on them at the moment, your final projects (where your final grade really comes from) will reflect how much you studied throughout the semester. Like UNR, accountability is key if you want good grades. Both universities have high expectations for their students.
  6. School Spirit: I think massive school pride is an American thing. We don’t have mascots, fall football games, and or students running around in London Met gear. I kinda miss the wolf pack pride.
  7. Resources: People walk or take the tube, so there aren’t things like the silver or blue line. If you need to go to the London Met Moorgate campus and you live the north campus, you have to take the tube. London Met does have a library, counseling, a student union, and advice centers.
  8. The Food: Since UNR is its own little community, we have places to grab food on campus. At London Met, I’m only aware of two or three different areas that serve food. It’s mostly cold food like sandwiches, warm pastries, tea and coffee, and crisps (chips), though. Because the campus is located on a busy road, there are many restaurants you could easily access by stepping outside.