Tag Archives: questions

Exercise makes you smart? Well, duh.

When deciding on a career in journalism, there were a few key selling points:

  • Action and excitement? That beats a cubicle any day.
  • The ability to meet new, interesting people? I’m all for that.
  • The use of critical thinking skills to deliver the best, most informative story? I love a good challenge.
  • The pressure of quick deadlines? Not exactly my strong point…

Despite my hesitation about the stress of time limits, the other aspects of journalism were just too hard to resist. I put aside my fears, enrolled in J101 and never looked back.

Now, halfway to my journalism degree, I’m just as passionate as ever about spreading the news.

In part, this is due to my sure-fire tactic against writer’s block: When a deadline seems to be all-too-quickly encroaching, I put my notes aside, lace up my shoes and pound the pavement.

That way, instead of wasting half an hour on Facebook staring blankly at the screen, I actually do something productive.

But, the benefits don’t stop when I return hot and sweaty glistening from my workout. Instead, something miraculous happens: I plop in front of my computer and the words I was previously unable to find seem to flow onto the paper.

I used to like to refer to this as, “The Paradox of Exercise.”

As it turns out, there is actually science to back my claim that exercise makes you smarter. In a recent article in Real Simple Magazine, Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., said that exercise increases the ability to concentrate.

More specifically, short bursts of heart-pounding exercise flood the brain with oxygen and other chemicals, such as dopamine. This serves to both reduce stress and improve the ability to focus.

All that means is that my ritual jog is good for more than just working up a sweat. Pounding the pavement actually helps me pound out a paper.

And, with little time to spare, I’ll take a “kill two birds with one stone” scenario whenever I can get it.

FYI: I didn’t even need to take a run mid-way through this article. The benefits of exercise on concentration are actually long-term. According to “Mind Tools,” a stress management program, physically fit people “have less extreme physiological responses when under pressure than those who are not.” Therefore, good physical health also helps avoid long-term effects of stress.

Question: Do you notice a difference in your ability to concentrate after exercising?


Wandering for distraction, traveling for fulfillment.

Two weeks in Germany (almost) down, and I’ve noticed a few differences between America and Germany.

Of course, any amateur Sherlock Holmes would pick up on the contrast in language, landscape and lifestyle.

But me?

I pride myself on (beyond my great modesty) my sharp powers of observation.

Here is just a brief list of my discoveries:

  1. It is ever-so important to make the distinction between mineral water and tap water. The alternative is to learn to appreciate the taste of beer–it is almost always the cheapest beverage option.
  2. Always use the restroom before leaving the house. Public restrooms are either blocked off with a gate, requiring 50 cents to access, or are guarded by an sweet looking old lady, who courtesy also requires you pay 50 cents to.
  3. There will be somethings lost in translation. For example, when I was explaining to my host family that I like to cook, it came out as “I like cake.” We figured it out and had a good laugh. Still, it is always more appreciated to try and speak the other language than to submit to frustration.
  4. Finally, everything costs money. The bathrooms are just the beginning of it. The “complimentary” bread on the table? Don’t touch it, unless you are hungry for an extra charge. Down the non-mineral water before the food arrives? Be willing to dish out another couple Euro for another drink. Have a blog and want to update the world on your on-goings? The two Euro per hour at Dunkin Doughnut’s Internet cafe only goes so far.

The good news, however, is that I am settled into my host family’s house. That means free restrooms, unlimited water and, best of all, wireless Internet.

More updates to come, but here are a few pictures to whet your appetite:

Die Kolner Dom.

Marketplatz in Bonn.

Marketplatz in Bonn.


Die Berlin Holocaust Memorial.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult part about traveling?

A final taste of America

Tomorrow is my last day in the good ol’ States before heading to Germany to study abroad for the remainder of the summer. I am have my bags (almost) packed, my language skills (mostly) sharpened and my wallet (partly) filled with Euros. Sounds like I’m good to go, right?

I feel ready to handle a few weeks of life abroad. I can do without the American sitcoms, the Midwestern humidity and the constant barrage of tabloid “celbutant” coverage.

However, the one thing (in addition to friends and family, obviously) that I’m really going to miss is the ability to bake/cook.

I want to go out with a cooking bang, but I am truly stumped on what to make.

Question: What should Emily Lou bake/cook? Suggestions? Challenges?