Category Archives: Life

Emailing Professors

How to Email Your College and University Professors

While I am still a graduate student, I teach both online and in the classroom. As a result, I get a lot of emails from students.

Sad to say: some students don’t know how to email politely or they think that they don’t have to worry about their email etiquette with me because I’m “still a student” or “not a real professor.”

Admittedly, some of these emails can be downright funny but some of them are downright rude. While I do not take it personally, I still wonder about such emails.

My overall tip: email professors or instructors, grad student or not, like you were emailing a boss that you hardly know or a potential employer. It is good practice.

So here is a list of things to think about when emailing your professors.

Click the “more” link below for actual tips.

Click the links in this sentence for humor. 🙂

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Artistic Context

The summer after my freshmen year of college, I worked for the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre.

I love this city!

I love this city!

My job was mainly stage management and I worked with a lot of actors and directors centered in the Pittsburgh area. As someone involved in the Pittsburgh theatre scene since the age of 6, these were people that I had admired for years. Forget the A-list actors in Hollywood, these were my living idols that I had grown up seeing in equity productions since I was very small.

One of the directors that I worked with was a particular celebrity of mine. I had seen her in many, many shows and watched a lot of her work as a director.

I remember listening to a discussion between this director and a fairly famous-even-outside-of-Pittsburgh actress during a rehearsal break.

Director: “I don’t understand the ‘researchers’ and ‘scholars’ that study and break down performance. They are removing the context and stripping art of meaning.”
Actress: “I agree. You can not replace the experience. That is the point of art.”

For some reason, this exchange has stayed with me.

Does scholarly study of art take something away from that art? Continue reading

Our News Contributes To Ignorance

In 2011, I visited Scotland. While it was not my first time out of the US, it was my first time to Europe. There was so much that I fell in love with on that trip.

For example, I loved the European newspapers.

This may seem like an odd thing to “love” but when you are addicted to information, like I am, you tend to notice how different people interact with information and how the information is presented and what perspective is taken.

European newspapers, news channels, and general European conversations, while often featuring European issues (obviously), also discuss US politics and Middle Eastern happenings, and so on and so on. There was a certain amount of balance regarding the local happenings and the rest of the world.

It is as if there is more to the world than Europe!

By itself, this is an obvious statement. However, let’s look at American newspapers and news channels for a second.

While there IS world news in US channels and newspapers, there is a lot of weight on US happenings. The news is, shall we say, “filtered.”

This is not to say that there is NO filter on European news but the fact that I have to go to the European websites for information about the rest of the world says something about US news.

About two years ago, I started to notice something very odd on the Yahoo! home page. I was slowly seeing more and more world news. This is fine but I also wanted to look at news from the US and maybe something science-y.

When I would go to Yahoo! from any computer other than my own, I would see a lot of stories for celebrities but no world news or I would see a lot of advice pages but not US news.

There is an explanation for this.

The internet is becoming tailored for each user.

Now, I no longer go to Yahoo! for my news but it definitely showed me how I am slowly being put in a bubble without truly realizing it.

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Professor Field Notes

Many of you in a university environment may have noticed a strange creature: the professor.
It is common for students to be uncertain of how to interact with this strange species.

How To Understand Your Professor

Professor: a strange creature with odd behavior and esoteric language. Their species is one of great variety, ranging from the awesome to the boring to the down-right evil. They are frequently sighted in a classroom or office. Their natural camouflage is wide-ranging to the point where researchers have concluded that their attire is as varied as their personalities.

Many of us will encounter the “professor” in our lifetime.

What do we do with this strange creature called “professor??”

Fear not students! I have complied a field guide to your professor.*

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Coffee Shop Personalities

I’ve been spending a lot of time in coffee shops lately. My office at the University has no windows and I think the lack of sunlight is starting to get to me. Also, I really just need a change of pace now and then and a coffee shop is a more active environment compared to my office, the library, or my apartment. I think a stimulating but nonintrusive atmosphere jogs my brain and I tend to get more done.


Now, sometimes I do need quiet to focus but I can usually work in a semi-quiet environment like a coffee shop.

Anyway, since I try to take a mental and visual break for a minute or two from my computer every half hour, I take a look around the room to see who is occupying the place. After visiting many coffee shops, I’ve noticed a lot of themes regarding the people that *spend time* in the coffee houses.

This list is not meant to offend. This is merely a fun mental exercise for me.

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