Why Music Makes Us Feel: Emotionally, Neurologically and Historically

Music is pretty much all encompassing in the digital age.

It’s universal and can be heard in all types of advertisements, commercials and TV shows – most of which aren’t about the music itself.

Familiar tunes are constantly playing in grocery and department stores; the style of music normally based on the type of experience they want you to have.

Of course, we also have our personal favorites streaming through our headphones, computers, AUX cords and cars.

True, we all have varying preferences and differences in our frequency of listening to music. Characteristically though, most humans tend to enjoy it.

Photo credit: Lunamom58, Creative Commons, Original photo
Photo credit: Lunamom58, Creative Commons, Original photo

I have met only one person in my whole life that told me he didn’t really like listening to music. He must have been dropped one too many times on his head as a child, I guess.

Music just makes us feel good, even if it’s a sad melody. But why does music make us feel so good?

National Geographic conducted a study that shows that when we anticipate music to be played it arouses our brains from the get-go. Once it flows through our ears, our neurons react and it triggers a response, showing distinct brain activity.

This is where we either like, or dislike the music – a distinction that is not clear yet scientifically. I may never know why country doesn’t soothe me, but rock music does.

Neurologically speaking, we are rewarded with happiness through the form of dopamine when we listen to music.

Our reward circuit of dopamine within the brain that is responsible for processing those tangible activities needed for sustaining life (such as eating, drinking, sleeping and sex) is also is used for processing our experience of music.

Seems simple enough, but the interesting part is that the act of listening to music is an abstract activity – and such things are typically processed on a cognitive level, creating happiness through a slightly different process.

Does this mean that music is necessary in order to survive?

Maybe not, but perhaps it has helped us progress as human beings. Our ancient ancestors may have used it as a tool to connect socially and emotionally in their day-to-day lives, on a level that wasn’t just about survival.

Many would agree that harmonies of voices and a combining of instruments often sounds more appealing than a simple beat on a bongo. This thought may have occurred to early humans, stimulating a social construct within our brains to create and enjoy these sounds together.

All in all, music might just be what made the human race more than a species that merely survives for survival’s sake.

World Cinema: Not Just in English

As American moviegoers, we often like to stay in our comfort zone of what is familiar to us as far as our cinema experience goes.

Whether you enjoy action, comedy, or romance, you probably are watching American movies with American slants and messages that are in accordant to mainstream American culture.

So naturally, we have a bias when it comes to viewing something that was made in Hollywood over a movie that was made in Bollywood (India).

Language barriers can also be a turn off because honestly who wants to read during an entire movie?

But sitting down and getting past the subtitles of a foreign film can be beneficial in seeing the world from a different perspective.

It also gives another country a chance to tell their side of the story artistically and world events that you may not have heard in their historical context.

Watching a foreign flick could also give you an appreciation for aesthetics and different filming and editing techniques, as in the chaotic camera movements that symbolize Cuban frustration and struggle in the events leading up to Castro’s revolution in I am Cuba (Soy Cuba), which was ironically shot by Russian Director Mikhail Kalatozov.

Yet, melodramatic films like these can also serve as evidence for propaganda under the guise of “national cinema,” leaving the viewer to question where truth is consistent and where it is stretched in not only foreign films, but those made in the U.S. as well.

But if you’re not in a world cinema class like I am and do not have time to delve into great imported cinema here are a few recommendations:

Photo credit: Anthony Estrada 3 Iron, (Empty House)
Photo credit: Anthony Estrada 3 Iron, (Empty House)

1. 3 Iron (Empty House) (2004), is a Korean romance film about a young man who tapes menus to door knobs and lives in unoccupied dwellings while the owners are gone or are on vacation. American audiences will be glad to know that this is a heavily visual film (Not a lot of subtitles in this one).

2. Stalker (1979) is a Russian science-fiction/quest that follows a “Stalker” (guide) as he leads a writer and a scientist into the “Zone” where a man’s most inner desires can come true.

3.  Rome, Open City (1945), is an Italian war drama that gives insight of Rome during Nazi occupation in 1944.

4.      Red Tent (1969), an Italian/Russian co-production that demonstrates the national pride and attention that surrounded the fatal 1928 Italian expedition to the North Pole. This film was made in Russian, Italian and English and even features Sean Connery (James Bond himself) to entice American moviegoers, though possibly due to Cold War tensions was overlooked.

5.      I Am Cuba (1964), a Russian/Cuban co-production as mentioned above, is about the Cuban revolution against Batista, but also features highly noted long camera shots before cuts are made.  

Though, these movies are influenced by the magic of Hollywood, it is interesting to see how other countries express themselves with the medium. Which can be just as ambitious and entertaining as any American-made film.

Unoccupied and Unplugged

Imagine you are sitting in a room. It is a plain room; there is not much to look at. Your phone is dead, your computer is in the other room and you cannot seem to figure out what to do with your time. You could leave, but you really don’t feel like getting up and walking around the room.

Pacing is ill-advised.

But you get fidgety, you can’t seem to keep your leg still. Your knee bounces under your palm, and your pesky laundry list of to-do items starts to lean heavily against the back of your eyes.

Photo credit: Micky Aldridge, Creative Commons, Original Photo
Photo credit: Micky Aldridge, Creative Commons, Original Photo


The list only grows: grocery shopping, homework, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, going to the gym, etc. The list runs further down your throat until it nearly suffocates you.

The anxiety kicks in and you can’t help but wonder how many minutes have gone by. Three minutes. You groan in boredom before kicking to your feet and leaving the room.

No one is safe from the desire to avoid boredom. We are raised to believe that boredom is high up on the list when it comes to failure. Even learning how to lucid dream has become so popular, we are no longer allowed to merely sleep. We have to be doing things at all times.

Flappy Bird, Candy Crush and, well, any Facebook game, seem to only fuel our restlessness. Today, we can no longer sit in a room and merely be bored, wasting time.

Even simple tasks are being sung as wasteful. As if time itself is this finite resource that we must suck dry like all other pleasures this planet gives us.

We are wasting time walking from one college building to the next, we must be on our smartphones- Tweeting, texting or Vining.

We have been conditioned with the gut reaction to occupy ourselves. We cannot even watch television anymore without computers on our laps or iPhones with Instagram and Snapchat.

But what if we reject that idea? In the age of computers and flat screen televisions, I urge you to join me in an experiment.

Imagine and consider taking a single chunk of 10 minutes out of your day and simply be bored. Be brave with me, defiantly shut your computer and turn your phone on silent in the next room.

Face the intimidating silence of your mind.

A Well Deserved Vacation Abroad

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
-Saint Augustine

Whether it’s at the end of this semester or in the fall, graduation is quickly approaching for seniors. This can be an overwhelming thought that most students, including myself, are reminded of on a regular basis.

We’ve been in school for most of our lives and now after the long hours and perseverance this chapter is finally coming to an end.

One of the main purposes of college is to prepare for a (hopefully) well-paying satisfying job, but most jobs will be full-time and last for the majority of our lives.

Before jumping into a full-time career, one option is to take some time to travel abroad after graduating.

Traveling is a great way to experience different ideas, new people, create lasting memories and relax with friends and family after working hard to earn a degree.

As we’ve probably all heard before, the best time to travel is when we’re young.

People usually don’t have as many responsibilities as they would once they have a career, start a long-term relationship and possibly have children, which makes it easier to take some time to explore.

Even if you plan on attending graduate school or already have a job lined up after graduating, taking some time to visit another country is very doable and rewarding.

The expense of traveling can be intimidating, especially for recent graduates, but it is possible to find hotels within your budget on a country’s tourism website in locations that still offer an incredible experience.

While popular countries in Europe such as England, France and Italy are generally thought of for traveling abroad after college, there are other locations that are sometimes overlooked.

Whether you’re interested in relaxing by the beach or exploring the history and culture of a new place, here are some alternative  countries that offer beautiful views and memorable experiences:


This Southeast Asian country has a tropical climate, fascinating culture and history, and offers a variety of hotels ranging in prices. Thailand’s capital is near the coast and many popular beaches, which is perfect for a relaxing trip with friends or family.

May through August is the tourist-friendly country’s off-peak season, which offers the cheapest prices.



Whether you’d like to explore the history of the capital, Athens, or visit one of the 227 inhabited islands, Greece is a great place to visit.

Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson, Creative Commons
Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson, Creative Commons, Original Photo

Because of the country’s location and clear waters; water sports such as boating, wind surfing and water-skiing are very popular on the coast and the islands.



Brazil offers the chance to explore the Amazon, visit famous cities such as Rio de Janeiro and enjoy Brazilian cuisine and culture.

The country is well-known for its Carnival festival in February, which is a week-long celebration before Lent that includes parades, music and colorful costumes.


Happy safe travels.

How Training to Fight Trains You for Life

I have always been active in sports. I started playing tee-ball at a very young age and continued playing baseball until high school. When it wasn’t baseball season, I was involved in football, soccer and basketball.

Although I loved my time playing all of these sports, it wasn’t until I started training in different athletic endeavors that I started learning about life.

I started watching mixed martial arts in high school as the UFC started to become popular. I was friends with a couple of wrestlers who introduced me to the promotion, and instantly I was hooked and always talked about training.

It wasn’t until I was 27 that I started training. I took a Judo class at my college and soon signed up for Muay Thai and Brazilian jujitsu at a gym.

When I signed up I was prepared to start a physical transformation. What I wasn’t ready for was a mental transformation. The following are three ways that training to fight has trained me for life.

Photo credit: Anthony Peters

1. Always keep your balance.

This lesson comes from Muay Thai. Keeping your balance is essential for everything.

If you throw yourself off balance while punching, not only does it make it harder for you to continue your attack, it makes it hard for you to defend.

I apply this to my personal life every day.

By keeping my school life in balance with my home life, I am able to keep everything in perspective and not over extend myself in one area. This allows me to focus on one thing at a time.

2. Mat time, mat time, mat time.

This jujitsu saying is probably the lesson that I needed to learn most.It is said to students who try to find a shortcut for learning techniques.

In jujitsu, as in life, there are no shortcuts. The only way to truly become a master at something is to put in the time on the mats, or just continue working on it.

3. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

I learned this Japanese maxim from my Judo classes. In Judo, you are constantly being thrown to the mat.

Either in practice or in sparring, getting thrown to the mats can be very demoralizing. What separates those that don’t make it and those that do is who can pick themselves up and get back to it.

Life can throw you to the mat easier than the best judoka. What separates those who are successful and those that aren’t is who can rebound from hardship.

Why Everyone Should Work in a Restaurant at Some Point

From dish washing to waiting, the food service industry is one that often gets misunderstood and overlooked at. It is commonly seen as a service, where the customers are aiding businesses by bringing their hunger to them. Where no mistakes can be made, because it is a simple job, no matter the position.

On the contrary, it is not an easy job. There’s much more to working in a restaurant than most people think. It is like a machine, where it takes many components to work right, and being a part of that machine has taught me valuable things that can be incorporated into the real world.

Photo credit: Joserolando Bravo

1. Appreciation

Working in a restaurant lets you see the hard work it takes to make it run well. You learn to appreciate the host’s warm welcome, the bus person keeping your table clean, and the time a server takes to make sure your are enjoying your dinning experience. Lets not forget the food; the staff in the kitchen never stops working including the dishwasher that receives dirty dishes almost nonstop.

2. Patience

There will be difficult customers that will make it seem impossible to work with, regardless of age or gender. Lashing out or speaking your mind is not an option. Patience is a virtue, and one you’ll definitely gain working in the food industry.

3. Dynamics

Human interaction is inevitable, and working in a restaurant is a great way of building skills that will become beneficial. Courtesy, respect, and politeness are a necessity, and sometimes people tend to forget that. “Treat customers as if they were guests in your own home,” says Nate Johnson, Chef and owner of The Kitchen Table in Chico Calif.. Great food and great service will help build relationships, along with regular customers.

4. Communication

Probably one of the biggest gains in working in a restaurant is gaining the ability to properly communicate, not only with customers, but with coworkers as well.

5. Teamwork

Most jobs you will obtain will require the ability to work with a team. Leadership skills and being able to follow are both characteristics of teamwork, and a restaurant is a perfect place to learn that.

Working in a restaurant is something that everyone should do at some point in their lives. The things learned from it will benefit you greatly, and are something that will carry on to the rest of your life.

Spice Up Your Single’s Awareness Day

Valentine’s Day is truly the most hyped-up holiday by Hallmark. Whether you’re in a relationship, single or dating, Valentine’s Day is just another day of the year. As backward as it may be, single individuals are the ones who seem to put the most emphasis on this holiday.


Singles should remember on Valentine’s Day that love is not just for couples; it is for all of us and we should embrace it! Here are some ways to make this February 14 fabulous:


1.) Spoil yourself or save some money

Since you aren’t spending a dollar on some dude, treat yourself to something really special. This goes for guys as well; being single on this Hallmark holiday means that you don’t have to max out your credit card on a ridiculously expensive gift for your girlfriend, so spend it on an item that you’ve been wanting.

Last year’s Consumer Reports said that the average American spent $130.97 on Valentine’s Day. This amount is said to increase this year. For college kids, that’s a chunk of cash many would much rather save or spend on themselves.

2.)     Share the love

Let your close friends and relatives know how much you care about them. This is a day to appreciate the ones around you and really let them know you care. Go to the dollar store and make your closest friends goodie bags of candy, teddy bears and other cheesy crap to let them know they are loved and appreciated! Send your grandparents Valentine’s cards and let them know that they are on your mind. Caring for others on this day will make you feel good about yourself.

3.)     Spend time with friends

Get a group of friends together and turn the night into a fun guys’ or girls’ night out. Start out with dinner at a local restaurant and splurge a little. Then, when the check comes, realize you’re only responsible for your portion, a benefit of being single. Plus, you don’t have to share your entree!

4.)     Don’t sulk, go scope out the single scene!

After dinner you can hangout with your close single friends who you really care about. But, don’t get too comfortable or plan on vegging out on the couch. No sulking around the house, romantic comedies or pity parties allowed today. Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, so why not go downtown with your friends and scope out the single scene? All the couples are bound to be cuddled up on a couch somewhere watching “The Notebook,” so there won’t be any PDA or obstacles for you to avoid.

You can turn this holiday of Single’s Awareness Day into Single’s Appreciation Day all by your perspective and how you choose to spend your time.

Birthday Freebies in February

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22! Well, not yet at least.

I won’t be the worthy number in Taylor Swift’s award winning single until February 19, 2014!

Even if your birthday isn’t this month I thought I’d share some freebies available only on your birthday.

Photo Credit: Ed g2s, Wikimedia Commons, Original

Everyone likes free things and it’s even better when its on the day you graced the earth. After all, a celebration is in order for every year survived so why not make it cheaper than expected?

This website has a list of freebies nationwide. I chose to highlight places you can find in town. Some items include:

Cold Stone Creamery: Join their club to receive a coupon for free ice cream on your birthday.
Denny’s – Grand Slam with photo identification proof.
Disney: Register for Disney Movie Rewards and you’ll receive a credit for a free Blu-ray movie on your birthday.
Dutch Bros. Coffee – Birthday drink.
IHOP – Pancakes or meal.
Krispy Kreme – Birthday doughnut.
Logan’s Roadhouse – Nutter Butter Fudgeslide dessert.
Old Navy: Sign up and you’ll receive a free surprise on your birthday.
Olive Garden – Birthday dessert or appetizer.
Outback Steakhouse – Free Aussie-tizer.
Redbox – DVD Movie Rental.
Red Lobster – Appetizer…
Sephora – Benefit Real Birthday Turn-ons set.
Smashbox – Gift Set: transparent bag, lip product, and make up compact.
Starbucks -Handcrafted beverage.
Tully’s Coffeeshop – Barista beverage.
Victoria’s Secret: Sign up and receive a coupon for $10.
World Market – $10 Birthday items.

It is wise to call a store or restaurant before heading out to receive a freebie. Only certain locations allow it.

Reading the fine print is also important.

Starbucks gives you a free birthday drink, but only if you’ve signed up as a card member at least one month before your actual birth date. I made that mistake last year.

When it’s not completely free, some things may still be worth the free membership sign up.

Spam may be a result but who really cares? A good deal is a good deal.

I would recommend the birthday freebie planning now so you don’t miss out when the golden time arrives! Happy future birthday freebie finding, friends!

A Simple Guide to a Healthier Life

As a college student, living a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard as some may think. We all get caught up in the mix of long nights, busy days filled with stress and managing a social life.

There are many excuses for students not to live a healthy lifestyle but there are also plenty of reasons why some do.

Not only does eating healthy and exercising make you feel better physically but it will boost your mentality as well.

As I was browsing online, I came across this article, 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.
The article provided great insight on why being active is so important for living a happy and healthy life.

From my own experience, I have made a list of what you can do to stay healthy both mentally and physically.

1. Get enough sleep:

  • 7-9 hours is the average for college students

2. Manage your time wisely:

  • Make a to-do-list at the beginning of each day

  • Create a routine for each week to get homework done

  • Find your most productive time of the day (ex. morning vs. night)

3. Exercise:

  • Choose days during the week to go to the gym (or on a run, a hike, etc.)

  • Incorporate different workouts weekly (run, bike, weights, yoga, etc.)
Healthy Eating
Enjoy a meal at TBar! A fusion bowl filled with greens, brown rice and tofu. A delightful lunch filled with nutrients.
Photo Credit: Natalie Norris

4. Eat healthy:

  • Create a meal plan every week

  • Have 3-4 servings of fruits & veggies a day

  • Avoid snacking at night

  • Never skip breakfast: most important meal of the day

  • Always stay hydrated (8 glasses per day)

Of course, we all have those days when we don’t feel like doing anything but lounge on the couch.

Though these days are wonderful because everyone needs a break once in a while, consider doing yoga to relieve some stress. It is a great way to relax and be active at the same time.

There will always be alternatives to meals and workouts, all you have to do is make sure you find what will work best for you.

Check out Lauren Conrad’s blog for useful workout tips and simple, nutritious meals!

Sealing the Deal: Interview Tips For College Grads

Job interviews can be nerve-racking, especially for college grads who may not have as much experience interviewing as other candidates.

As the graduation date comes closer, now is the time students should prepare for interviews and learn to stand out from the rest. Below is a list of interview tips to impress an employer and get your dream job.

 1. Practice, practice, practice!

It is important to practice with friends, family, your professors, etc. Going over standard interview questions with people you trust will help you feel more comfortable when the real interview comes.

The Chico College Career Center offers mock interviews to help college students with suggestions and critiques.

2. Have your resume memorized.

A lot of times, companies will ask you questions based directly from your resume. If you have listed “assisted in media pitching,” be prepared to explain exactly what media pitching you did for that company. This Huffington Post article offers some other great resume advice.

3. Be aware of your body language.

Make sure you give a solid handshake, make good eye contact and sit up straight. Having good body language will show your enthusiasm for the job at hand and portray your positivity.

Photo credit: Victor1558, creative commons, original photo

4. Bring questions.

Research the company beforehand and come up with some quality questions about the company. Coming prepared with questions shows the employer your determination and strong work ethic.

5. Say thank you.

Make sure to get the contact information from the interviewer and send a follow-up thank you email or letter. Hand written cards make more of an impact and show you put time and effort into thanking them for their time.

With these tips you will be prepared and confident to impress the interviewer, show them why you are the best candidate for the job and seal the deal.