[“Don’t Tell Me Your Major Theme” By Malena Ramnath]

Malena: Hey guys! My name is Malena Ramnath.

Hannah: My name is Hannah Fredly.

Malena: And we're your hosts and sophomores here at Northwestern. This is Don't Tell Me Your Your Major, an interview style podcast where we avoid getting to know people on the surface level with questions like what their major is, where they're from, and how old they are, but try to get to know them on a more profound level. That's how you really know the kind of person someone is rather than judging them based on pre-established stereotypes. We're also joined today by Asteris Dougalis, who is currently a sophomore here at Northwestern, although we won't tell you what his major is. Say hi, Asteris.

Asteris: Hey everybody. I'm glad to be here.

Malena: So today Asteris, I thought we'd have a little themed discussion as usual, as per the norm of this podcast. And I thought we'd play around with the idea of definitions, because for me, I feel like there's a lot of different ways you can use the root of the word definition – like definition, definite, definitively, define, you know, and you can use those in all kinds of different contexts. So, I thought that that would be like a cool way to base our questions off of. So we'll start off easy with a chill question. And it's: What is your favorite word? And what is its definition? And I’ll go first to give you guys like, a little time to think, you know, but so my word is going to be a little pretentious. And it's okay if your guys’ is too, but my word is halcyon. I think it's from Greek mythology – I don't know why I think that – but um, it's the idea of like, the good old days in the past that are like shiny and golden in your mind. And, for me, I'm a very nostalgic person. So that's why that's my favorite word. It just reminds me of the good old days. So I thought that that was cute.

Asteris: What are the good old days for you? What do you think when you think about this?

Malena: Freshman year? I don't know, I just, I felt like – not to say that I peaked. I think I feel like we are in the middle of the good old days, which is kind of a really great thing to recognize while you're in them because a lot of times you don't. But there was like a carefreeness to freshman year where, like, it's before I'm recruiting for jobs, you know. Before I, like, really start caring about my GPA – when you're just meeting people and, like, everything's an exciting, independent, like blur. And also, you're getting all your meals cooked for you in the dorm. So I think that's what it would be. But okay, Hannah, what is your favorite word?

Hannah: So I think my favorite word is hygge. And it's a Norwegian word. Originally Danish, though. And so I'm Norwegian. And it just like it technically, if you've seen these posts before that are words you can’t translate from other languages. It's this word, and it means cozy, warm — “Enjoying yourself” is the closest I can get to it.

Malena: Dude, that sounds cozy. Not to sound just repeating what you're saying. But, you know, being like, bundled in blankets and stuff. That's the vibe. Right?

Hannah: Exactly.

Malena: I feel like that's something that IKEA markets about. Not to, you know. I feel like I've seen the name as like a blanket in IKEA.

Asteris: That’s true. IKEA is a place where everyone has positive memories in, you know, because it's always starting something new. All that. I think my word is a little less, maybe, profound than yours. I say aforementioned because in every single essay I always use “aforementioned this”, “aforementioned that”... So I think you know, they talk about forensic linguistics and all those things where they can see like the tracking of how you write on those things. Definitely “aforementioned” for me is a telltale sign of my writing. So I guess that's my favorite word.

Malena: Yeah. So they always know if you're doing, like, academic dishonesty or you're writing someone else's essays, because like you've written aforementioned.

Asteris: Shhh, don’t tell anybody.

Malena: Okay, okay, so like moving on, we're gonna get progressively deeper with these questions. Hopefully, we're gonna like probe into your souls a little. Okay, that sounds not great. Anyways, moving on. I think the next question that I have for you guys is like, what is the important, the most important thing that you know definitively? Like that, you know, that you know it is definitely true that this is the case. And it can be a random fact that gets you through daily life. Or it could be words of wisdom that you just know, in your heart. Do any of you guys want to go first? Do you need more time to think about it?

Asteris: I think I have one. I'd say one thing that I definitely know, and I'm glad I have this as a constant, is the fact that you know, my parents love me, like, family love, I guess. Because I know that no matter what happens at any point, I’ll always have that condition. That my parents and my brother are gonna love me. And I think that's important to have. And I recognize it's not something every family has, but I'm so glad that it is that I feel that way in my family. And I think I want to try and continue that in my future when I'm building a family. You know, make sure that my kids know, that's how it's going to be that no matter what they do, I'm always going to be there to support them and love them.

Hannah: Yeah, that's super important. I agree. Although–

Malena: I think there's some little stuff I might do that my mom might hate me forever for. She’ll love me, but she'll just hate me just like a little bit. Just a lil bit. No, but not to ruin that. That's actually something really profound. I think that's important. Something I definitely want my kids to know. Like, just to even that like even that way you can have like you can get upset at them. You can put them in their place, but they're never going to be completely lost from you.

Asteris: It's so unconditional. It's a primal in a sense. You know, it's like that, like, all animals have the same sort of, you know, connection to their family members in some degree. Maybe not cats. I guess. The dad’s kill the… Let’s not talk about that.

Malena: What happens with cats?!

Asteris: You don’t know that??

Hannah: I don’t know about this, but I know that in other species, there's species where the male will kill the children.

Asteris: Yeah, that's how it works with cats. I think, I'm pretty sure.

Hannah: I know some of the bigger cats – big cats. Like, I've wondered if tigers, maybe?

Malena: Yeah, okay, let's move on. I like cats, we're moving on.

Hannah: Okay, so the only one I can think of is, as long as the Earth rotates around the sun, the sun's gonna rise every morning. I mean, that sounds kind of stupid. But it's true, for a fact. And also, like, if you want to see it on a more like, profound level is that every day is a new day. And it's like, there's always something to do, you know?

Malena: Yeah, no, that's really true. I think this is something that's kind of related to that. It's like very scientific, but you know, when you're in middle school, having your emo goth phase as I did, and having your, you know, existential crises about everything.

Asteris: We’ll act like, yeah, yeah I’ve been there.

Malena: For me, for me, it's kind of not a phase. It's like a lifestyle. I don't know why I called it a phase. But I think that like something that I realized, like, very clearly is like – this is really stupid. But I feel like when I was like, when you're sitting there, like you're sitting here, you know, that, like, the molecules of the air are parting around your body to make space for you. And so it's like, in a way, you know, you're shoving molecules out of the way when you do anything – just like make space for yourself in the world. And that means that there's always a place being made for you, you know, and everything. Like the universe is like, bending around you, no matter how small you are. And I think that that's something that's like important to remember when you're having existential crises and stuff and being like, “I'm so small.” But like, the molecules are still bending around you like, you have matter... you matter.

Hannah: I’ve never thought about it that way, it's super cool.

Malena: No, it also zens me out to think like, you know. I've tried meditating. And I'm honestly really bad at it. Like, I can't go 30 seconds without thinking about, like, my midterm. But the fact that I can, like, just feel like the kind of air pressing back on me and everything. It's kind of like a good way to center yourself when you're meditating and stuff like that.

Asteris: Do you think, like, the Butterfly Effect, and that kind of stuff. So if you move your particles to move, will that affect me? Like, are they coming to me and push me backwards or something like that? What about that?

Malena: I mean, I don't, I don't know. I think Butterfly Effect is like something that's like a really scary thought. Like, if I do something differently then like, everything will be different, you know? But I just think it's also important not to be paralyzed by that kind of thing. Like you, we could sit in paralysis being like, “I can't do anything, because then it’ll affect something.” But like, what are you gonna do? Sit in bed for the rest of your life? Like, I mean, you can, if that's what you want to do. I mean, you do you, sister. But like, I can't, I can't do that. So...

Hannah: Yeah, something I also think about sometimes is that nowadays, most people at least, yeah, the ones that are like, lucky enough, they have a lot of options on what they can like do in life. Like usually back in the days, if your father was like a welder, you'd become a welder. And that was like your path. Now, for some people, we have so many options that we get choice paralysis. And there was actually this study that came out that showed us, like, if you have less choices, you actually end up happier, because you look less at the opportunity cost. There's less of like, what if? And so it's totally a thing where it's like, “What am I going to do? I have so many options.” And then you end up being like, maybe more unhappy? Because you can always go back and think, oh, what if I did this? What if I did this?

Asteris: Yeah. Also the fact that maybe if there's so many options, they're all so attractive too, you try them too much. And that gets overwhelming, too.

Malena: Yeah. I hate to cut this discussion short, but I want to get to like the last question before our podcast ends, And just kind of just building on what we were talking about, like, what do you think is the thing about your personality or your life experience that defines you as a person the most? I’ll go first on this one, because it is tougher, but it's something that I think about a lot. Hence, I'm the question asker. But for me, it's definitely that I'm a diplomat’s daughter. Like I was raised as a daughter of a US diplomat. So I grew up in, like, a different country every three years. And like, it's exposed me to a lot of different cultures like Global Citizen stereotype, third culture kid...Sorry, I hear a lot of it in the international community. But I think like, what it made me was flexible. To a certain degree. Everyone knows I like to plan everything, but like, it made me flexible to the whims of other people, I think, and it made me more resilient in the face of like failing than I think a lot of other people might have. So I feel like that's what defines me, but what do you think would define you guys more?

Asteris: First, I'm wondering, I want to ask you a question about what you said. Do – would you want that lifestyle for your kids in the future? Would you want the same lifestyle as you had? Because when I was moving around, I always thought, you know – I still don't know what’s the answer for me – you know if that's the sort of lifestyle I want for my kids. But what do you think?

Malena: I would say, I want a mini version of it. I think I moved too many times. I think I got really lucky that I moved to countries where I could easily develop a social life. I know in other countries the situations that I would have been in would just, that would not have been the case because like the expat community I would have been in would have been really small and isolated. So I got lucky that the expat community blended in with like, the local communities, and I had a very vibrant childhood. But I'd want my kids to not live in a bubble where they didn't move their whole life, they didn't see the outside world, they didn't interact with other cultures... like I want to throw them into living somewhere else. But I say like moving twice might be an acceptable amount rather than nine times, which is how many times I've moved between places. I think that's too much. I wouldn't want my kids to go through the same sadnesses I had, I think. Not to make myself sound like, you know, the most sad person ever. But you know what I mean? So yeah, but okay, what defines you?

Asteris: I would say that, I only thought about this, and it's being reinforced now that I moved to the U.S. Only when I first moved to another country, I kind of figured this out. But you know, for me, being Greek and all that, I think definitely defines me. Like my parents – and I guess the whole Greek education system – does a good job of, you know, driving...

Malena: And so, for our listeners, Asteris is Greek.

Asteris: Yeah.

Malena: I mean, Hannah and I, we're aware of this, but not everyone else. So yeah–

Asteris: Yeah, I bring it up a lot. More than I should at least. They do a good job of drilling in the point of, you know, like, all the greatness of you know, culture and history and all those things and that really matters to becoming who you are. Being proud of who you are. And I think that's something that I'd say a lot of Americans can’t really relate to as much, for one reason or another. But it's, it means a lot to you know, protect your identity and your culture. And also, you know, make sure that your kids have a similar upbringing. Like, I want to make sure that my kids speak Greek. And that's why I'm so excited that I see so many of our friends, you know, that are Greek American – they also speak Greek. And, you know, that gives me hope for my kids, because I couldn't, you know, I couldn't not pass that on, you know, because I'm so proud of it. And it's part of who I am. So it has to be part of who my kids are. So I think that, like my ethnic identity, or my country, I think is definitely what defines me to a large extent, especially now that I'm moving around. And I'm out of that element, you know?

Hannah: I have a question. When you're with Greek people, or you feel like you're connecting with like, Greek heritage, do you feel like you have a different personality? When you speak Greek when you're with Greek people versus other people?

Asteris: I don't really know because it has to be an unconscious thing. You know, you have to be someone watching me from the outside to figure it out, kind of thing. But I think, I think I do for sure – I definitely act differently. I think it's also like, you know, like language and culture and all those things, you know...maybe... Like Greeks are more open maybe? And that may not be seen in what we talk about. Maybe body language, that sort of thing, you know, all those things change. So, body language is definitely different. When I'm, I use a lot of hand gestures, for example, you know, like when other people are doing and maybe it is. I don't know. I'm moving my hands right now.

Malena: Yeah. No, I think, every person...I want to preface this. Every person's an individual. So like, you know, we all have our own personalities, but I definitely see what you're saying about like, some cultures are just more like, in your face, like hospitality, open, inviting, exciting, compared to others that are more inherently reserved.

Asteris: And I wouldn't say it's overbearing in the sense that you can't grow as a person into it, you know? It's more so just something that you take along as, like, an extra thing to just carry around. You become who you are, but you have that also to fall back on.

Malena: Okay, Hannah, you’re last. To round out our podcast, what defines you?

Hannah: So I've been thinking about it. And I have a bit of an anti-answer, which is, I don't think anything really defines me. Like, if I look back at myself, one year ago, I don't like see much similarity at all. I feel like I'm constantly changing. And I'm very aware of the fact that I'm changing. And I feel like there's nothing permanent about me, my personality, the way I act, the way I speak, you know, it's very much changing.

Malena: Malleable.

Hannah: Exactly.

Malena: I think, that's I think that's actually the most exciting answer to just be like, “I'm young, I'm not defined yet.” Like, young, wild and free vibes in, like, the best, least cheesy way possible. And like, I'm not gonna let anything that's happened to me so far define me and I'm still like, on my way to figuring out who I am and I think that's exciting. I think that's also not to, you know, end this in a faux cheesy way, but I think that's like a good note to leave with our listeners. Like you got this, you don't have to know who you are yet. That's me yelling into the listener, Spotify, Apple Music abyss to whoever's on the other side there. But yeah, thank you guys for being here. Asteris, thank you for the insightful thoughts.

Asteris: Thank you for having me.

Malena: I've appreciated it. It was very good, you know, question asking in response. And thanks, of course, Hannah for co-hosting with me. My girl.

Hannah: No problem!

Malena: All right! Good night fellow listeners. Another great podcast. Thanks so much this has been Don't Tell Me Your Major, sponsored by NBN audio. Thanks so much. Have a good one. Bye, guys!

[“Don’t Tell Me Your Major Theme” By Malena Ramnath]