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University students explain why they’re organizing a TEDx on their campus in Syria — and why it’s so important

TED Blog

TEDxYPUBy the TEDxYPU team

In March, the ongoing conflict in Syria will enter its fourth year. Syrians have lost so much in that time — the Syrian who has not lost their life has lost several years of it because of a destroyed home, a faded business, or a family that has been torn apart by death or separation. But for many Syrians, what’s been lost most of all is any sense of hope.

We are a group of 25 ambitious students at Yarmouk Private University (YPU). We’re between the ages of 20 and 22, we live in Damascus, and we are organizing TEDxYPU for one simple reason: We want to bring a spark of hope to the sadness and difficulty in our country. We know that many Syrians will not be able to join us, and nothing makes us sadder than that, but we want to have a positive impact…

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The Survivor: Canada’s Wonderland Edition

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Gossip Girl here (jk it’s Kate),

Deep down I’m an adrenaline junkie. I mean who doesn’t like receiving nearly electrical jolts through your body and literally feeling the excitement flowing in your veins? It’s such an intense emotional state, and I love everything about it. Your senses are heightened to the max and your energy goes through the roof.

You must wonder why I brought adrenaline rush up (unless you took the time to read the title of this post but who the fuck has time for that?)and if you guessed Canada’s Wonderland congrats you get a cookie (siiiiike I have none). Today, me and a couple of my friends took a little road trip to Canada’s Wonderland, located in Vaughan, ON. It was pouring on the way there but as soon as we got to the park the sun decided to be a good sport and make this day as hot as possible. Luckily, it was a pretty slow day and the lines were fairly short (we didn’t wait longer than 5 min anywhere). I’ve never been to Canada’s Wonderland before and it’s freaking ginormous! I don’t think you have enough time in the day to try all the rides there.

Our group decided to check out the thrill rides of the park to get the most out of our visit! Below is the list of the rides we went on in order of their awesomeness (in my opinion):

1. Leviathan
Hands down best roller coaster in Canada’s Wonderland and definitely a must if you ever pay a visit. The ride starts with a huge (83 meters) drop and goes on forever with many loops and turns. It’s a smooth exhilarating ride and I’m totally in love with it. The feeling you get when you’re on the very top (right before the drop) is indescribable. I felt like I’m on cloud 9; the view is breathtaking and you can see for miles! Leviathan gave me one of the best adrenaline rush experiences I’ve ever had; the euphoria was so overwhelming I couldn’t even scream. If I don’t ride that roller coaster again I’m living my life wrong.

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2. Behemoth
Second best roller coaster in the park after Leviathan. It was short but fun. On the first drop you feel like you’re literally going to fly out of your seat! I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared on a roller coaster ride. I was holding onto the seat for my life but let’s be serious I was craving that feeling of utter excitement flowing through my veins.

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3. The Bat
One word: thrilling. The ride has a loop and nothing is more amazing than riding upside down. The speed is just perfect and it also goes backwards! I definitely recommend!

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4. Psyclone
It’s a quick ride but the amount of adrenaline rush you get on the drop down is worth it!

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5. Wild beast
Wild beast is one of the wooden roller coasters at Canadian Wonderland. I wasn’t expecting it to be exciting at all but it was so fast and BUMPY. My hair turned into a rat’s nest after this ride. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite but it was amusing. One last thing, it was so shaky that my tiny necklace ripped right off my neck! Fuck you Wild Beast! That necklace was one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

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6. Orbiter
It’s was quite a relaxing ride. I actually felt like napping except that I was getting swirled around in the air (round and around and around and around we go part or Rihanna’s song Stay starts playing).

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7. Thunder Run
This is isn’t exactly a roller coaster but more of a train ride. It goes through the Wonder Mountain into the dark tunnels with strobe lights. Not scary at all but entertaining!

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I wish I would have experienced more rides at the park but unfortunately I get from them so easily (fuck you, vestibular system). At least now I have an excuse to come back sometime soon! I don’t know about you but amusement parks enthrall me. They make me feel like a kid again and who doesn’t like being crazy and carefree?! I might be growing old but I’m surely not growing up (or just not yet). I will always have a special place in my heart for all the wonderful childhood memories and I thank Canada’s Wonderland for all this nostalgia.

PS. The food sold at Canadian Wonderland is mostly junk and crazy expensive. The best thing for you to do is bring food along and leave it in the car (you can exit the park and come back easily). I didn’t buy anything there but heard that Funnel cake is really good (=really fattening).

Cheers,

Kate

Sweet Tooth Adventures

Hoi!

The key to my heart appears in form of a dessert; cheesecake, chocolate, ice cream or basically anything sweet. My sweet tooth is a permanent condition that’s impossible to get rid off (which is why I have 4 different types of ice cream in my freezer right now; don’t judge please). I’ve been trying to eat healthier but giving up dessert is not acceptable.

My Saturdays (I call them cheat days) are dedicated to junk food, which is why I allowed myself to go out to one of my favourite dessert places in Kingston, ON, Spin Dessert Cafe. It serves everything from cakes and ice cream to crepes and waffles.

Today I went with a really sweet desert called, Peanut Butter Dream cheesecake, served with vanilla ice cream (I asked to substitute it for chocolate ice cream instead). It’s described as “white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake loaded with Reese’s peanut butter cup pieces.” I enjoy good cheesecake but even for me this was a little too sugary. The cheesecake itself was exceptional with reach creamy peanut butter taste but combined with Reese’s pieces and very think icing was a little over the top with sweetness. I still enjoyed it but unfortunately struggled with finishing this piece by myself. Definitely need someone to split this piece of art with for the next time!

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My friend, Jen, got Apple Crumble Pie, which was “loaded with fresh apples and topped with a buttery apple crumble” and served with vanilla ice cream. She really liked it and commented on it not being as sweet as the cheesecakes at Spin Dessert Cafe. Something I’m thinking of trying in the near future!

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Overall, great dessert choices and wonderful service! My goal this year is to try all the desserts at Spin Dessert Cafe (and gain about 50 pounds). Dessert and breakfast foods prices range from $10-15 dollars. They also have ice cream and speciality drinks on the menu. Spin dessert cafe has locations all over GTA and Southern Ontario Area so give it a shot!

Spin Dessert Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cheers,

Kate

Your summer reading list: Rashida Jones, Elizabeth Gilbert, Bill and Melinda Gates and many more share their book recommendations

YES YES YES!

I’m constantly looking for new interesting books to read and if you’re too check this out! It doesn’t hurt to grab a book and chill outside instead of watching Netflix in bed all day.

Cheers,

Kate

TED Blog

Books - vector illustration

Summer: the season for cracking open a good book under the shade of a tree. Below, we’ve compiled about 70 stellar book recommendations from members of the TED community. Warning: not all of these books can be classified as beach reads. And we think that is a good thing.

books-Elizabeth-GilbertPicks from Elizabeth Gilbert, author 

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman. “The only book I have ever bought by the crate-load. I give copies of this sumptuous masterpiece to everyone I care about. I could try to describe it further, but … it would be more efficient if you just read it yourself. (Watch Maira Kalman’s TED Talk, “The illustrated woman.”)

Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror in Science by Richard Holmes. “I just finished writing a novel about
18th- and 19th-century scientific exploration, and this engaging book was a…

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Thai Food Had Me Like

Howdy!

Let me just tell you that I’m NOT one of those people who are always eager to try new cuisines or order something unique and different at a restaurant. I truly wish I was but part of me is either terrified of not liking new food or liking it too much; I’m not even sure myself.

However, lately I’ve been trying to open up more to dishes I couldn’t imagine trying in a million years. Today me and my friend, Sierra, went out for dinner after yoga. She picked a place to eat and I just went along with it (no ragrets). We ended up at a Fine Cambodian and Thai Cuisine restaurant, Pat’s Restaurant, in Kingston, ON. At first I was hesitant about my order taking time to read every entree description. They are so many delicious sounding dishes you can pick from that I just gave up and went with what first caught my eye.

I ordered a Western Style dish that included golden tomato, chicken, dried pepper, magrood, lemon grass and shallots with plain white rice. The waiter kept asking me if I’m comfortable with spicy food cause apparently the dish I picked was quite hot. I threw the doubts away and decided to leave my food comfort zone. WAS IT EVER DELIGHTFUL! The food has so much spice and flavour to it! I absolutely loved it. The chicken and rice were cooked well, and together with sauce and tomatoes tasted amazing. I’ll admit it, it was quite piquant but that’s what created an unforgettable flavour.

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My friend, Sierra, ordered Phanaeng Kai dish that consisted of red curry chicken, basil, lime leaves, peanut and coconut with rice. She asked for it mild as she doesn’t enjoy spicy food that much. It look ravishing and I tried the sauce her dish came with. It had creamy taste to it, and I liked the curry flavour. I’m definitely thinking to try that dish next time I’m at Pat’s.

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One thing that I gave points to Pat’s for is the fact that you can order your meal mild, medium or hot, depending on your spice preferences. Pat’s also offers delicious sounding appetizers and soups that I plan on tasting when I stop by next. Their prices are very good for the size of the dishes they offer. You wouldn’t have to pay more than $13 dollars for your meal unless you order extra appetizers which I’m glad I didn’t go for; I couldn’t even finish the dish I had despite its deliciousness.

As you’re paying for your meal you can grab a fortune cookie (or two..) if you’d like. If you don’t like fortune cookies you’re probably not human and should stop reading this.

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…so this is why I always find crumbs in my bed.

Pat's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cheers,

Kate

Nacho Average Love Story

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Hey everyone!

I’m sure you’re all aware of the recent obsession in the white girl world with the book by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars. I haven’t got a chance to read it but I have seen the movie (those of you who strongly believe that I HAVE TO read the book before watching the movie can screw off; I do what I please). In my opinion watching the movie before reading the book it is based on helps you to enjoy it more. You don’t sit there in the movie theater and notice every single thing the script writer didn’t include from the book, the actors didn’t say or judge the way the whole movie was directed. Nothing is more frustrating than getting beyond disappointed with the movie after you have already built this picture perfect world of the book you read in your head. On that note I would like to share my thoughts on The Fault in Our Stars. I’m going to try and not give away any spoilers but don’t get mad a me if I accidentally blurt out something you would prefer not to know (you’ve been warned).

First of all, I knew the movie was going to be sad and prepared to cry a lot. I also happened to be one of those people who can’t help but get teary eyes during any cute/sad/happy moment in the movie. The Fault in Our Stars focuses on an extraordinary breathtaking love story of two kids with cancer. It left me quite heartbroken but thankful at the same time. Thankful for everyone I’m lucky to have in my life.

Two main characters, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, have been both struggling with cancer since they were in their early teens. They’re different; Hazel is quiet and likes to keep her world to herself where Augustus makes everyone around him happy by just being there and expressing whatever hullabaloo goes on in his head. He’s an open book and she’s a diary with a lock and a secret key to it. Augustus is open, straight forwarded and honest. He makes Hazel smile without really trying, and that’s when you know they’re meant to fall in love. And they do, slowly and then all at once. Their love story is short yet so passionate. It will leave you mad, crying and speechless. Most of all it will make you appreciate your life and the people you care for so deeply. It will make you think twice before you’re rude to to people you love even if they make you angry and realize how insignificant your argument is. It will remind you how beautiful the world we live in is yet how cruel it can be to those who don’t deserve any pain. The Fault in Our Stars in definitely a must watch. You might think it’s a cliche love story but it’s not. It has so much more meaning to it; it sends a message but you’d have to figure out for yourself what that message is.

Before I sign off I would like to share my favorite The Fault in Our Stars Quote quote:

“What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.

If you have seen the movie/read the book comment your thoughts about it on this post, okay? Okay.

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Cheers,

Kate