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Sep 5 / Talya Slaw

Back to School!

Summer break is officially over.

We’ve just completed the second (but still not first full week thanks to Labor Day) week of classes and fall schedules are in full swing.

Since this is always a reminder for me that things are about to get colder (despite my love of Michigan, Winter is absolutely my least favorite season), I’ve been keeping a mental list of all the things I love about “Back to School.”

#1. Classes:
Call me a nerd, geek, weirdo…whatever. I actually do enjoy learning. One of the best parts of college is that you get to choose what you want to learn. Even with the long list of Gen Ed requirements, you get choices. Don’t want to deal with math in a physics class? Take physical anthropology instead!

As a fifth-year senior, I am entirely done with my Gen Ed’s, and am now in the stages of having free range of what I choose to take (within the requirements of my major, of course). This semester, I’m taking:

PS 3710: Politics of Western Europe — Deegan-Krouse
PS 5850: Human Rights — Roth
ENG 3085: Introduction to English Rhetoric and Writing — Marback
HIS 4990: Directed Study (History of Agriculture and Food Culture) — Richmond

The first few meetings of all of these classes have been excellent, so I’m really excited about this semester.

#2. Food Trucks:
I’ve spent the entire summer on campus missing these dearly. There are two you should absolutely know about —

a. El Guapo Grill: delicious burritos, tacos, etc.
b. The Mac Shack: interesting mac and cheese

Both are really good and especially useful when you need something quick on the way to class. Since our Student Center is still under construction, I will definitely be frequenting these.

 #3. New school supplies/dorm stuff!
Every store you go into right now has a back to school section. And, since it’s passed Labor Day, it’s probably all on sale. I love getting colorful new school supplies, so this is a major plus for me.

Back to School also means every store has rolled out its “dorm essentials,” which are usually in exciting colors and patterns. Even though I’m still enjoying my Fall 2010 Target dorm things, I like walking through these aisles to get excited about the school year.

#4. Debate:
Of course, debate season never really ends. Our topic for the next season is usually announced pretty soon after Nationals for the past season ends, so there’s never a long break from research. However, the new school year means tournaments start back up. This means that I get to travel (this is an amazing plus to being a debater — often times, we travel to warmer places during Michigan’s particularly cold months) and see all of my debate friends that I’ve been missing this summer.



Jul 18 / Talya Slaw

Adventures in Budapest


This post, while not about student-life at Wayne State or in Detroit, is about something equally as exciting — my trip to Budapest, Hungary!

It’s been about a month now since I returned from my adventure, so I’ve had plenty of time to let everything sink in so I can post about a few of my favorite things.

I went to Budapest with a good friend to visit his brother, who had been studying abroad there. We left at about 7pm and flew through the night, arriving in Budapest at about 4pm the next day.

The next day, we were already off to go sightseeing. From the start, it was clear that Budapest was unlike any place I’ve visited before.

The history of Hungary is long and quite interesting, filled with various points of independence and occupation. It’s quite easy to find influence from Turkish occupation, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and, most recently, the USSR.

The last of these was the most obvious in the place we visited on the first day:


These boots are all that are left of a statue of Stalin that used to stand in Budapest. They are now housed in Memento Park, a statue park of soviet-era statue that have been rounded up from around Budapest and are now presented together:



Since talking about every sight I saw in Budapest would make an incredibly long blog post, I’m instead going to organize the rest of the post around a Buzzfeed-style “my favorite sites.” They are in no particular order. And, of course, if you are interested in learning more about my trip or a particular thing, just leave me a comment!

Budapest Zoo
It probably seems a little silly for me to say that the zoo was one of my favorite things to see, since there are zoo all over the U.S. The Budapest Zoo, however, was incredibly different from the zoo’s we have in the United States. Everything is much more open, with the barrier between human and animal far less intense. This was obvious in the first exhibit we went into. We walked through a metal gate and found ourselves staring straight at ring-tailed lemurs, which were in the trees above us. They very easily could have jumped down and touched us.


Much of the zoo was like this, which allows you to get up close and personal with animals you wouldn’t otherwise see so closely in the wild. My favorite part of this was meeting a sloth, which came only four inches from my face (this picture doesn’t show how close he came, but it’s the best picture I have!):


Finally, I was also excited to see giraffes, my favorite animal, at the zoo:



Buda Castle & the Hungarian National Gallery 

What interested me most about Buda Castle is not that it was the site of Katy Perry’s Firework music video, but it’s history. Buda Castle has existed since 1265. However, no one is definitely sure where exactly this 1265 Buda Castle was. Since 1265, the castle has served as a home to royalty, invaders, and prisoners. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The structure that stands today was not a home to any of these. In fact, it was never used for anything other than a home to museums and libraries. This is largely because Buda Castle was destroyed during WWII and had to be rebuilt.

One of the coolest parts of being around the palace complex was seeing the current archeological dig site:


You can see the current castle in the background. The other building you can see on the edge of the left side of the picture is where the President of Hungary works.

^ Here is part of the courtyard where the music video was shot.


This is the entrance to the Hungarian National Gallery, the museum we explored that’s housed in Buda Castle. I unfortunately couldn’t take pictures inside, but if you are an art-lover, you should definitely explore the museum’s website! This was my favorite art museum in Budapest (we went to three).

4. The Fisherman’s Bastion

To be completely honest, despite my numerous readings of Wikipedia, I have no idea why exactly this was built. It was built in 1902 and named for the Fisherman who defended this area of the city during the Middle Ages. It looks like a sandcastle and offers incredible views of the city!

This is the Hungarian Parliament building from the Fisherman’s Bastion:


There were a lot of other exciting things I saw in Budapest, such as the Bela Bartok Memorial House and the Dohany Street Synagogue. For the sake of the length of this post, however, i’ll save that for another time!

Overall, if you are looking for a European adventure filled with history, exciting things to do, see, and eat, but can’t afford places like Paris or London, I really recommend you visit Budapest. The city is incredible, but isn’t filled with tourists like other major European cities are. It’s easy to get around using Budapest’s extensive public transportation system and people are very friendly and helpful! Seriously, go to Budapest! Let me know in the comments if you want any more info!

Jun 13 / Talya Slaw

Winter 2014 semester review

Now that the semester is wrapped up (and I am home from all of my adventures), I wanted to talk about the classes I took this semester so you can get a glimpse into the schedule of someone wrapping up their communication major.

My Winter 2014 schedule:

COM 4140: Pop and Celebrity Culture
COM 5120: Public Address
COM 5900: Senior Project
PS 3450: Environmental Policy and Politics

I am also doing my Honors thesis this semester, but I will save that for another post.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a double major with a minor and staying for a full fifth year. Even though I don’t graduate until May 2015, however, I completed my communication studies major this semester. And, I have to say, I really enjoyed my last communication studies classes:

*if you would like to know more about the Political Science class I took this past Winter, feel free to let me know in the comments!

COM 4140 – Pop and Celebrity Culture.
This is the type of class you tell your mom about and she goes “what? Why are you taking that?” However, I LOVED this class and really learned a lot about critically analyzing the world of pop culture that constantly surrounds us. We spent the semester learning about different research methods (such as the traditional critical essay, photo essays, and even art displays), reading scholarly articles that showed us how to deploy those methods and talk about popular culture, and talking about case studies.

Additionally, there was a semester long research project. The end goal was a paper that deployed a method we had discussed to analyze some facet of popular culture. Along the way, we had assignments due to help us write the paper, including a formal and informal topic proposal, formal and informal presentations, and an outline.

The class also gave me the opportunity to write about something I’m interested in that I haven’t been able to research before — how women are portrayed in popular movies. I focused on the role of women in Peter Jackson’s the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. These movies are traditionally criticized for not having many women. I argued that though there are few women, the women that do appear are excellent characters, with important themes, story arcs, and characteristics.

Having an excellent teacher made this class great as well. PhD student Stanislav Kozadayev taught it. He always stayed after class for questions or more discussion and was flexible enough to let classroom discussion flow in different directions. He was also always available by email (or in his office) if you needed help with anything related to the final paper!

COM 5120 – Public Address.
This is the class where you learn about things that immediately come to mind when you think about a “communication” major who studies “rhetoric.” We spent the semester analyzing famous speeches. The class was divided by type of speech — inaugural, State of the Union, Convention speeches, war rhetoric, apology, scandal, tragedy, etc. Within each, we watched and analyzed 2-4 speeches – some very famous, like FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech, and some only famous locally, like Kwame’s apology speech after his texting scandal broke.

I enjoyed this class quite a bit. It was exciting to finally see the speeches you hear so much about and get to talk about what makes them good or bad from a communication perspective. I’m sure as I see more public speeches in the future, it was also make me a better critical listener and analyzer.

This class was taught by Dr. Ron Stevenson, an excellent professor in the communication department. This is Dr. Stevenson’s area of interest and research, so he is quite knowledgeable on the subject and great for asking questions! He always has some great questions to spark discussion (and debate) in class as well. If you have a chance to take a class with Dr. Stevenson, you absolutely should!

COM 5900: Senior Project.
This is the capstone class for the communication major. It’s meant to be the last communication class you take in your last semester of study. So, everything leads up to this.

This class was awesome at preparing students for the world outside of college. The class was divided into two sections – the first was basically “how to get a job.” We did mock interviews, learned how to properly craft a resume and cover letter, and how to look at job descriptions critically, so that the resume and cover letter could be written to match exactly what the employer is looking for. This was incredibly helpful and I feel much more prepared to hand over my resume and cover letter to a future employer now.

The second part of the class was about research. We were divided into two groups – interview and survey – and then set out to answer questions about what people do with a comm degree after college and what employers are looking for in today’s job market. We then broke into smaller groups and presented our findings to comm faculty, COM 2000 students, etc. This was excellent because it gave us 1) hands on experience in conducting research and 2) information about what classes we should take and what skills we should develop to better prepare ourselves for the job market.

Finally, the class was taught by Dr. Kathryn Maguire. She is amazing. Always energetic and enthusiastic, Dr. Maguire is great at keeping the class motivated and on track, answering any questions you may have (or finding the answers to a question she doesn’t know), and just generally helping students out! Quite a few of my classmates were in the process of applying for jobs, so taking this class at the same time was extra helpful.

In the Fall I will be taking:

ENG 3085: Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing
HIS 4990: Directed Study – I will be studying the history of agriculture and food culture
PS 3050: Politics of the American Presidency
PS 3710: Politics of Western Europe

I am quite excited for this schedule as well!

Stayed tuned for the next post, which will be about my trip to Budapest, Hungary!

May 5 / Talya Slaw

the Art of Fashion and Rushton Undergraduate Conference

Hello all!

The end of my semester became so crazy that I never got a chance to post my March blog! So, it’s divided into two parts: The first is about the “Art of Fashion” Fashion show at Neiman Marcus that I guest modeled in late February. The second is about the Rushton Undergraduate Conference, where I got to present my research!


Two weeks ago Now two months ago (wow, time flies!), I was a guest model in the “Art of Fashion” fashion show at Neiman Marcus. And I have to say, it was insanely fun! The night was designed to help the fashion design students raise money to go to fashion week in NYC.

Here’s the scope:
On the way to the show (located at the Neiman Marcus in Somerset), I have to admit: I was a little nervous. I haven’t done anything like this since I was very little, and I’m a bit clumsy (so the threat of falling on my face was a concern….).

When we got there, we signed in and got name tags and then headed up stairs for some fancy Hor d’oeuvres! We also walked around a bit to look at the display of awesome dresses designed by the fashion design majors at Wayne (they were really cool, my favorite looked like a modern-day gladiator outfit) and to listen to the Jazz trio preforming (also from Wayne)!! This was pretty cool, and just shows some of the really fun opportunities you have at Wayne in any CFPCA major.

Soon enough, it was time to get dressed and hit the runway! I got to wear a Kate Spade (one of my favorite designers) dress in a cool salmon color and a pair of awesome Brian Atwood heels. Dante, the other dean delegate/guest model was looking great in an all-white outfit. The fashion show was divided by “spring trends,” so I was in the pink section, and Dante in black-and-white.

The third guest model of the night was none other than Dean Seeger (the dean of the CFPCA) himself. Dean Seeger was looking great in the floral section, with a floral tie and purple sunglasses. I can’t express enough how awesome it was that our dean was also a guest model. This just shows you not only how amazing our college is, but how much Dean Seeger cares about his students!

I managed to walk down the runway without falling, and even got some compliments afterwards, especially on my pink glasses, which I just “happened” to wear that night. 😉


As if this week wasn’t crazy enough (nationals-qualifying debate tournament, then the fashion show), I also was a student presenter at the Rushton Undergraduate Conference two Friday’s ago two months ago!

Here’s the scope:
The process for applying to the conference was pretty simple — I just needed to submit an abstract of my paper and some identification info. To apply to be a Keynote speaker, I just needed to also include my full paper.

A few days later, I received an email that I got in!

The conference is divided into sessions, and within each session are 3-4 panels, which can include anywhere from 3 to 5 student presenters. Each panel had a theme. This conference is specifically for students with topics that fall within language, linguistics, art, dance, or cultural research. Many times, undergraduate conferences are only for students within the hard sciences to present research, so I can’t stress enough how lucky I am to go to Wayne, which makes sure students in the “soft sciences” and humanities get an equal chance to show off their work.

The panels were all really interesting, ranging from topics about specific art theories to “Queering the Renaissance” to women in medicine. My panel was called “From Farm to City and Back Again” and there were two other students presenting on it. The first was a woman from the linguistics department, whose paper was about greeting patterns within the Midtown area. Second was a student from the history department who talked about the history of wetlands legislation. I went last, presenting my paper “Cows, CAFOS, and Capitalism: How the Free Market Economy Triumphed Over Evolution.” I talked about the history of cows, modern industrial farming and its hazards, how cows have fared in the modern organics movement, and some solutions to resolving some of our food problems. It was an incredible experience; I especially enjoyed the question & answer section, where we discussed things like corn subsidies and bison meat as an alternative to beef.

It’s been a great semester so far, and I love that there are all of these opportunities I have to take advantage of!

Feel free to post any questions or comments in the section below and expect many more blogs now that the semester is over!



Feb 25 / Talya Slaw

What a busy semester!

Hello again!

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t posted in a while! That’s because it’s been a busy few weeks here at Wayne State! Fortunately, this gives an opportunity to talk about some exciting things here.

1. Debate:

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m on the debate team here at Wayne. This has made for some exciting traveling this semester! On January 1st, we traveled to California to compete at two tournaments – the first at the University of Southern California and the second at California State University – Fullerton. We placed in the Top 16 and Top 32 at these tournaments, respectively.

We next made our way to the University of Pittsburgh for an invitation only round robin tournament. This is the first time that Wayne State has been invited to bring two teams.

Next, we were up in the air again, and headed for the University of Texas—Austin, where my partner and I again finished in the Top 16, losing to last year’s National Champion.

This past weekend, we went to the University of Michigan to compete at our National’s Qualifying Tournament. My partner and I finished in the top four, securing a qualification for the National Debate Tournament.

2. “The Art of Fashion:”

I found out last week that I would be participating in the “Art of Fashion” as a guest model with some of the other dean delegates! This is an incredible collaboration between the College of Fine, Preforming and Communication Arts and Neiman Marcus. And I am very excited! If you’re attending, make sure to look for me at the end of the pink themed section!

3. The Rushton Undergraduate Conference:

This is also incredibly exciting! Last week, my paper was accepted to the undergraduate conference that’s held here at Wayne. This is an exciting opportunity that isn’t available at all schools, and especially not for students in the humanities! As someone who is looking forward to Graduate School after undergrad, this is also an excellent chance for me to get experience presenting at conferences, which is an expectation at many grad schools I’ll be applying to.

With opportunities like these, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come to Wayne.

I’ll be sure to post about my experiences at the fashion show and conference at the end of this week, so stay tuned!

And as always, feel free to leave comments!

Nov 1 / Talya Slaw

Hello world!


I’m Talya Slaw, a fourth year here at Wayne State. I’m a double major in Political Science and Communication. I’m also a member of the debate team!

When I’m not researching for debate or traveling around the country for tournaments, I love watching movies, singing, playing the violin, and rooting for the Detroit Tigers!

I love being at Wayne State. Given what I thought I wanted in a college during the admissions process, I wouldn’t have thought that. I applied to all (except Wayne) small, liberal arts colleges, mostly on the East Coast. I’m not a native Michigander, so I wasn’t afraid to leave my state for college. Wayne, however, had advantages that I simply couldn’t ignore.

1 – academics –

Wayne is a premier research institution. While many focus on the research opportunities in the sciences, there are plenty in the humanities too!

Wayne also gives undergraduate students the opportunity to take classes alongside graduate students, which elevates classroom discussion and research.

2 – location –

Midtown, where WSU is located, is the cultural heart of Detroit. Campus is within walking distance of the Detroit Institute of Art, the Detroit History Museum, the Detroit Science Center, and the Detroit Public Library. Within a short car ride away are the Detroit Opera, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Belle Isle.

Beyond the cool things in Detroit, it was also the perfect distance from my home. My family lives in Grand Rapids, just a little over 2 hours away. This allows me to go home easily, but also gives me warning if someone is going to come visit. J

3 – debate –

I debated in high school, so I saw a lot of Wayne State debaters judging and coaching high school teams. Knowing the people that would be my teammates, I already knew that I could find a home on the debate team. Wayne State also has one of the best teams in the country! One of our teams is currently ranked 8th in the country!

4 – All the little things –

In addition to the great benefits I mentioned above, Detroit also has smaller things that are substantial advantages. This includes the excellent food in and around Detroit, such as Slow’s BBQ, Lafayette and American Coney Islands, and the best Middle East food in Dearborn (seriously, where else can you order a side of hummus and pita instead of fries?). Detroit is also a great place to be a sports fan in. Campus is minutes away from the Joe Louis Arena, Comerica Park, and Ford Field.

I hope to use this blog to share more things I love about going to Wayne State and living in Detroit. I’ll talk about activities going on around campus, my debate travels, and cool things to do/see/eat around the area.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment!