Tag Archives: Environment

FAQ: My Master’s Program Part I

A couple weeks ago, I asked my friends on Instagram if they’d be interested to hear about my experience in my master’s program. An overwhelming amount of them kindly said they did, so I went a step further and asked what they would like to know. Below are some of the questions I’ve received and my, hopefully, helpful responses. Some questions I reserved for Part II because they require more in-depth answers. I will be posting it soon though!

For context, I am a graduate student at the University of Guam pursuing a Master of Arts in English with a Literature track. I began my program in the Fall of 2018 and my projected graduation date is December 2020. As such, I can only give my experience and advice based on my specific program.

Here’s what I go over in Part I:

The Process and the Program
– What’s the process like?
– Why did you decide to go to UOG?
– In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters?
– Expectations vs Reality?
– Undergrad vs. Grad?
– Workload?

– Professor interaction compared to undergrad?

The Thesis Process:
– How do you choose a thesis?
– What is the process of completing that thesis?

– Best places for sources?
– How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
– For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other cultures’ stories?

My Personal Journey and Advice to You: 
– Fav moments?
– Fav things you’ve read?
– Is it worth it?
– Does your future career choice require a masters?
– What can you do with your degree?
– What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
– Thoughts on taking a gap year?

The Process and the Program

  • What’s the process like?
    • Pre-application: For my program, I was required to submit a graduate application with my undergraduate transcript and letters of recommendation. I applied a week before classes started. For other programs, you’ll definitely need to plan as several graduate programs require you to apply a semester before classes even start and might require other documents. Make sure to do your research!
    • Credits: Once you get accepted, the English Program requires that students take 9-12 credits or 3-4 courses before they apply for thesis credits. You’ll need a total of 36 credit hours with 6 of those hours being dedicated to thesis. Most of us opted for 2-3 classes a semester as 4 classes, along with our respective jobs and responsibilities, could prove challenging.
    • Thesis: For those who aren’t aware, a thesis is pretty much a final research project, often in the form of a 45-65 page essay. You can choose to go the traditional thesis writing route or the creative thesis route. I chose the latter. Here’s a snippet I stole from my university’s website:
    • Students who follow the traditional option are those who desire to increase their mastery of a given content area and might be contemplating doctoral work in the future. Students who select the creative option might be preparing to teach creative writing in the schools, to work as editors and publishers, or will be writing for personal accomplishment. (“Admission Requirements“)

    • Whatever you choose will have its own challenges, so choose a path that’s interesting and sustainable for you. The best part about your thesis is that it’s yours. While you get to choose what you want to write about, however, your thesis should still showcase the knowledge you accumulated in your courses, which can include a strong command of language and firm understanding and application of theory.
  • Why did you decide to go to UOG?
    • Everyone thinks of cost when choosing a school. Well, almost everyone. I remember going for a drive with two friends of mine. One of them was complaining about how he had spent over $70k for his degree in business and how his job was only paying him a little more than minimum wage. At this time, I also only had a B.A. and was about to pull out loans for my M.A. while only having a part time job.
    • My other friend, who doesn’t have her degree and who was also likely tired of listening to us complain said, “I don’t even have my degree and I’m still making more than both of you.”
    • That’s when I realized I didn’t want to drop $70k+ on a big, fancy school mistakenly thinking my inevitable success would be tied to its name. I knew I could receive just as good of an education at UOG. I already knew the professors, knew that I wanted to study indigenous and pacific Literature, and knew I could accomplish all I wanted with paying a fraction of the price.
  • In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters? and/or vice versa?
    • I wish I could answer this, but I can’t as I have no experience with it. I can, however, table this for a later post where I interview my professors or other graduate students.
  • Expectations vs Reality? Undergrad vs. Grad? Workload?
    • Expectation: The classes will be 10x harder. I’ll hate my life.
    • Reality: When I was taking course work, I was submitting 1-3 essays a week and reading 200+ pages of text along with it. The beginning of the semester usually starts slow, but once it hits midterms it felt like the rest of the semester was me trying to catch up. The rigor and expectation is definitely heightened, but I also had the freedom to choose what classes I wanted to take.  Because my program is relatively small, the professors are really accommodating with students. They always ask for our input and what classes we would like to take next semester. I was actually super interested in what I was learning. So while it was 10x harder, it was far more enjoyable than undergrad. 
    • Expectation: I wouldn’t have time to do anything other than school.
    • Reality: I had a part-time writing job, TA’d for my division, joined an outside league for basketball, and still hung out with friends. I just had to plan, prioritize, and recognize when I needed to buckle down and write that paper.
    • Expectation: I’ll finally have my life together and have it all figured out.
    • Reality: I don’t.
    • Expectation: I’ll be broke.
    • Reality: I mean, I’m nowhere where I want to be financially but I had more opportunities presented to me in graduate school. Because I narrowed my area of focus, it was easier for me to find the right place to network and the right people to work with.
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
    • Great question! I’ll save this for Part II. 😉
  • Professor interaction compared to undergrad?
    • Very good in my program! Some classes are hybrid, meaning it’s a mix of undergraduate students and graduate students (usually 1-2 other grads). In grad-only classes, the typical size is about 5 students, so not only did I form a close relationship with my professors, I also created a much needed bond with my cohort.

The Thesis Process:

  • How do you choose a thesis topic? 
    • Professors often advise students to have a potential thesis topic or area of interest in mind before they even enter the program. A lot of professors are very accommodating and will allow their students to tailor one or more essay assignments to their class and the student’s thesis. For instance, in my SciFi class, I drafted a story with the same theories I used in my thesis (post-colonialism and ecofeminism). What I learned from this essay was a valuable contribution to my actual thesis. So the sooner you know what you’re interested in, the better!
    • I learned, too, that the best way to choose a topic is to find something interesting AND important to me. Then interrogate the hell out of it.
      • Interesting: Mythology, Folklore
      • Important: My culture, my creative writing, valuable ways to create art, uplift voices from marginalized communities
      • My questions: How do Filipino myths shape the perception of women in the Philippines? How do they reflect the treatment of the environment? How can myths be adapted to reflect current times while also remaining a mirror of history/herstory? How can this be valuable and to what communities?
      • Theories: Eco-feminism, Post-colonialism, Abjection
  • What is the process of completing a thesis?
    • Before I decided to write my thesis, I first had to register for thesis credits. Before I registered for thesis credits, I first had to find an advisor or thesis chair (I’ll get into this more in another question).
    • Once I chose my advisor, I chose my committee (usually two to three other professors or scholars) to help me along in this journey. They didn’t need to be experts in my topic, although that certainly helps, but I chose them because they could offer valuable insight to my project.
    • Next, I spent roughly 6 credit hours dedicated to reading, researching, organizing and drafting my manuscript, which is now nearing 67 pages.
    • You can break up your 6 credits any way you want. Some only take 1 thesis credit a semester, others take 3-4. It’s up to you. For some areas of study, your final project might not even be in the form of a long essay. Some colleges have an oral exam. Be aware of your options!
  • Best places for sources?
    • I found a lot of valuable sources on JSTOR, but since my topic deals with indigenous narratives I had to move past the white-men-mostly databases and seek permission to access articles from universities in the Philippines. I also checked the bibliographies of the articles that related to my topic and tried to find the ones of interest to me. If it was a book, I often checked The Project Gutenberg for free texts. Otherwise, I just got really good at wording research topics and tacking ‘scholarly article’ at the end of the google search bar.
    • Before you pay for access to certain sources, check to see if your library or thesis chair is part of an affiliate program where they can retrieve articles from other universities for free. You’d be surprised how many expensive texts and articles I was able to gain access to for free.
  • How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
    • Before I chose my thesis chair, I had to think about the kind of student I was and the type of professors I needed. I knew I needed structure and too much freedom would be debilitating to my productivity. I also knew I wanted to work with someone who was knowledgeable about the theories I wanted to apply, but who was also open to learning about my own thesis topic and balanced that structure with freedom.
    • So I chose an awesome chair who required me to write up a 10 page proposal and have a working list of references before I even started writing. It. Sucked. But I needed it. This proposal helped me refine my topic in many ways. She also required me to create realistic deadlines and made sure I stuck to them.
    • Some professors won’t require a proposal or will give you all the freedom you need and some students thrive with this method. They have their own methods of structure and organization that, sadly, I lack. So choosing the right person to chair your thesis will be heavily informed by how aware you are of your own study and writing habits and how well you know your professors professor-ing habits (?? idk either).
  • For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other culture’s stories?
    • One of the purposes of my thesis is to illustrate one of the many ways indigenous writers can use creative writing to heal colonial wounds and rebuild their own identities unencumbered by the negative stigmas attached to their respective cultures and beliefs. My project seeks to carve a space, specifically, for Filipino narratives to converse with the wide array of stories already told in the corpus of western academia, young adult literature, and mythology. It’s so specific to my home that my hope wouldn’t be to tell the stories of other nations and cultures, but to hopefully encourage indigenous writers to tell their own stories in their own ways.

My Personal Journey and advice to you:

  • Fav moments?
    • My favorite moments all revolve around my cohort. There’s no specific moment, but there’s the specific feelings of struggling and despairing, doubting yourself and what you’re writing but ultimately pushing through and doing it with a supportive group of friends who are all going through the same thing. Sometimes we’d be so stress that our only response was to laugh like psychos over very real fears like what if we don’t finish in time or what if we can’t find a job after?
    • & to me, those are my favorite moments because they taught me that even in the midst of all this underlying fear and palpable stress, that we could still find the energy to laugh and have a good time. Those moments really convinced me that no matter what happens, it’ll all be okay.
  • Fav thing you’ve read?
    • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    • I read it in my EN680: Seminar in Contemporary Critical Theory class and wrote an essay applying my knowledge of environmental stylistics. I hated this paper so much that my love for it was inevitable.
  • Is it worth it? 
    • I’m always weary of answering this question: Is it worth it? It depends on what your goals are and what you make of your degree. I know everyone hates that answer, but it’s the most truthful one I have. I do think my degree was and is worth it because I learned so much about myself and my area of study. BUT I KNOW! We want to know about job opportunities. See the next question.
  • Does your future career choice require a masters? 
    • No. I would like to work in a publishing house, specifically in adult literature, or become a self-sustaining author. Both of which do not require a master’s degree but it does help in whatever profession I do choose to go into and it does entail a pay increase, soooooo.
    • Yes. I would also like to work as a librarian, which does require a master’s degree in Library Science.
  • What can you do with your degree?
    • Other careers I could pursue with my degree: Marketing, Advertisement, Public Relations, Freelance Writing, Media and Journalism, Law (e.g. paralegal, lawyer), Copyediting, Technical Writing, Teaching, etc.
    • You can basically do anything with an English degree if you’re driven enough to apply what you’ve learned and know the value and application of cross-disciplinary skills–– of which English has many. The most common and most valuable for almost all job markets are a strong command of language, exceptional writing, and strong communication skills.
  • What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
    • I didn’t want to be a little cry baby bitch. I thought about how many people would kill to be in my position, people who don’t have access to education, and who don’t have a supportive group of family and friends–– all people who deserve the right to an education. So I didn’t and don’t want to waste such a blessing. CORNY, I know, but that’s my honest answer.
    • When I first began this specific journey, I wanted to make my parents proud. As I near the end, I’ve come to realize that it’s just as important to make myself proud, which is arguably a lot harder.
  • Thoughts on taking a gap year?
    • I think for some people, it’s a great idea! I know fellow graduates who took a gap year, travelled, taught in other countries, accumulated “real world” experience and came back refreshed and even more ready for the school year. They dominated their course work.
    • In contrast, some people would rather just get straight into it, i.e. me. I was afraid that if I took a gap year, I would lose the motivation to go back to school. So, again, it depends on the person.

I’m all written out. Thank you for reading and I hope some of what I’ve shared has been useful in some way. Maybe it even convinced you to say, “Fuck a master’s degree!” To which I reply, “Do you, boo.” I don’t think a master’s degree is necessary (for the most part!) to be “successful” but I do believe knowledge and education are always an investment and you are worthy of that.

Some questions I’ll be covering in Part II:

  • How to deal with full time and school! Mix of online and in person classes? Gives and takes. 
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
  • What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
  • My tips for optimizing your reading and writing time

 

 

 

 

 

My First Poem of 2020

clip art flower.png

 I wrote a love poem once

But the words never made it on paper
Instead, they flew right out the window
And they rose and fell and evaded me 
before shooting across a rose covered sky
Like a comet during a sunset

For two decades,
They followed the waves of the Seven Seas

Crashed against the banks of countless countries
Weaved their way through Chocolate Hills and 
Machu Picchu, along the Great Pyramids of Giza, 
Through the South Pole, and then into the Northern Lights
Where they stayed for a long while. 

And for a time,
I thought I had lost them forever

That they had fallen into some dark abyss
With no one to catch them
Or found their way into a stranger’s distant dream
who would wake up that morning
And forget.

I had never imagined
that they would have fallen haphazardly onto your lap
–– unannounced and without preamble

ages before I had even heard your name,
 

and

I would have never dreamed
That the stars and the moon and the countless suns
had all planned the exact moment
 when we would meet,
me, with my unmarked paper

you, with my worn and well-traveled words

and that you had been waiting
       all this time
to return them to me. 

 

And That’s When I Knew

And that’s when I knew
when you turned to me and gave me your hand
Warm and welcoming
I felt the creases of my paper heart
                —Still fragile and apprehensive
Helpless and willing—
Iron itself smooth

You were the silent storm
returned and redoubled
The wind, so strong, so sure,
so definite and unyielding
that threw me once more into the merciless ocean,
into the current I couldn’t fight against
dragging me down deeper
into cerulean waters

Still, I dived– Headlong
unthinking and unafraid,
Into the tides that stretched
                        Far along the horizon
Sun drenched and smiling
In a chaos of our making

And that is when I knew
We were the eternal pattern of ebb and flow,
of the tides crashing on the rocks and sandy shores,
An imperfect but inevitable wave
being pushed away but ultimately returning
by force above its control.

 

(wo)menstruation: Trying a Menstrual Cup for the First Time

Word Count
Vagina: 8
Blood: 7
Insertion: 10

In an effort to be more cost efficient and environmentally conscious, I purchased a menstrual cup (MC) back in October. It had arrived at the perfect time as my period started the day after it came in the mail and, as any millennial would do, I documented my experience on my Instagram (which has been shamelessly plugged here).

Before giving my thoughts, I was curious to know how much my followers knew about the cup. The results weren’t all that shocking to me. Only 16 out of 108 voters had tried/used an MC and 3 out of the 16 were guy friends trying to screw up my data (Calling you out Russell, Francis, and Devonte).

As a preface, I want to first mention that my goal here isn’t to provide a thorough, informational guide on what cup to use and how to use it, although I will touch upon some details here. I’m in no way an expert, and I wouldn’t want to lead anyone astray! Nor is my aim to convince you to buy a one, but if you did that’d be great. My goal is simply to share my own experience. And should any questions arise from that, feel free to leave it in the comments down below. I’d be glad to share more!

What is a menstrual cup?
Simply put, it’s a cup you insert into the vagina during menstruation. When the cup reaches capacity or after 8-12 hours, you empty the cup into the toilet, sink, etc., clean it, and reinsert it.

Product Details?
After a lot of research I finally settled on an MC that I felt would fit me best. You can find this brand here on Amazon.
IMG_4096Brand: Intimina
Model: Lily Cup A
Capacity: 18ml
Dimensions: Size A: 3.07 x 1.57 x 1.57 in.

IMG_4100

Unlike popular cups like the Diva Cup, Lunette, or the Lena Cup, the opening of the Lily cup is slightly slanted. It also comes with a nice pouch to carry it around in. There are many different brands, so make sure to research which one would make your vagina most happy.

The stem is also quite long, so I trimmed off maybe half an inch of it. Many sites recommend you do this. The MC shouldn’t extend past your opening and if it does, you’re likely to experience chaffing.

Inserting?
I tried different folds to make insertion easier. My two favorites are the taco fold and the punch down fold. The former is basically rolling the cup like it were a burrito and the latter is pushing down on one end of the rim as shown in the picture down below.

Did it hurt? No. But the first time using it was uncomfortable. With practice, however, that feeling went away.

Did I feel it inside me? No. When inserted correctly, I sometimes forget it was even there.

USING AN MC IN A PUBLIC BATHROOM???
Let’s get to the question everyone has on their mind: okay but using an MC in a public restroom is gross?

My first time cleaning out my MC in a public restroom was definitely nerve-wracking, BUT this is mainly because I was worrying about it so much. It’s not as weird once you get accustomed to it.

Was it messy? No. If you’re concerned about blood splashing everywhere, that did not occur at all for me.

Did I get blood on my hands? YES. But only the tips of my fingers. I should also mention that I do bring wipes inside the stall. To prevent this, bear down on the cup using your vaginal muscles and the cup should lower enough for you to get in and get out with little to no damage done. This also depends on how low/high your cervix is. You could also cover your hands with toilet paper when pulling it out.

As for cleaning, since I couldn’t always mosey off to the sink and rinse out my cup, I used toilet paper/baby wipes to wipe the inside after I dumped the blood into the toilet. This should work fine and most users will tell you this as well. IT’S NOT AS GROSS AS YOU MAY THINK.

Pros:

  1. Durability and Security:
    MCs  supposedly lasts hella long–– 10 years. And because I am not the plan ahead/track your cycle typa girl having the security of an MC always on hand was golden.
  2. Safety:
    It’s more hygienic than pads and it’s a lot safer than tampons (as it lowers the risk for TSS*).

    *note: While Toxic Shock Syndrome is most commonly connected to tampons, it can be acquired from a variety of (non-period related) things. So using a menstrual cup does not mean you will never get TSS, though the risk is very rare.

  3. Eco-Friendly and Cost Efficient
    If you’re aware of our environmental crisis, you might have heard that pads and tampons are not necessarily recyclable, although there are efforts to combat this (Check out LOLA  for more details!). Because MCs last longer, the need to purchase non-recyclable menstrual products is hardly ever a factor.
  4. Less Time in Between Changes
    Because the MC hold your period blood instead of absorbing it, I didn’t need as many stops to the bathroom as I used it. An MC can be left inside for a longer amount of time as it holds anywhere between 18 ml to 30 ml of blood. To put that into perspective, the average period is between 10 ml – 35 ml of blood. If it’s inserted correctly, it shouldn’t leak, which is something that always occurred when I used a tampon for more than half an hour. BUT MAYBE I’M JUST INCOMPETENT.

    On lighter days, I’d go to the bathroom maybe twice every 10 hours and that’s just to check if I leaked–– which wasn’t usually the case.On my heavier day (usually the second day), it’s a different story. Using a pad/tampon I’d go to the bathroom maybe 5 times every 10 hours. Using an MC I’d go around 3-4, which really isn’t that big difference. Again, I’d like to share that I’m still relatively new to using one so this might lessen with time.

  5. Suited for active lifestyles
    I had no problems using it while I went for a run or for the one time I went swimming. I didn’t have to worry about hygiene (as much as I usually do) and changing it out right after a run as I would with a pad and I didn’t worry about leaking as I would with a tampon.

Cons:
I’m going to be real with you. As great as I believe MCs to be, there were a few cons I want to address here. It is also important to note that practice and consistent usage will definitely help or solve many of these issues.

  1. Hard to Open??
    Anyone who says an MC is easy to use IS A DAMN LIAR. While the benefits outweigh the cons, you really have to become intimate with your vagina and the cup when first using it.

    The Lily Cup material is extremely soft and very malleable. For some women, this might be ideal, but this made it difficult for me to open it up once inside my vagina because my pelvic floor muscles are relatively strong (weird flex, but ok?). And in order to prevent leakage, the cup literally has to suction onto your vaginal walls and the rim has to open up from the fold you used to insert it. That being said, it was especially challenging for me as I had been a first time user and was still learning the tips and tricks of using an MC.

    The second month was a lot easier. I spent a lot less time trying to get it to open as I had a better idea of what my vagina needed. I’d say the first month I’d spend 10 minutes on average in the bathroom trying to insert the damn thing correctly. The second month, I spent 3-5 minutes. Pretty good improvement, I’d say. I am still planning to buy a brand with firmer resistance to see if it really is just the cup or if I’M JUST INCOMPETENT.

  2. Leakage???
    One of the pros of a menstrual cup is that it does not leak. Caveat: it does not leak if it’s inserted correctly. Because learning to use the cup is the upward battle, I did experience leakage my first time using it. I will say, however, that when I did leak, it was not nearly as much as when I would use a tampon–– often times, it was just some minor spotting. I’d also like to note that I only leaked on my heavier days. The second month I used it I hardly leaked at all. Because of this, I do suggest wearing a liner on your heaviest day or the first time you try one–– at least until you get used to it.
  3. Cleaning
    Using a cup requires maintenance. You can’t just use it and throw it away like you would a tampon or pad. Before and after each cycle, you have to boil the cup in water for a good 5-8 minutes. So you will have to reserve 5-8 minutes of preparation after you discover you got your period. I could have avoided this wait time if I had some foresight and prepped my MC as I got nearer to my due date rather than waiting for the day my period actually came.

I’d like to conclude this section of my MC journey by letting y’all know I will have a part 2 to this post where I answer the questions others had sent to me and share some of the tips and tricks that helped me best. Before then, feel free to leave any questions you may have or share your experiences and insights down below.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

-petrichor-

Today, the book I was reading got wet
I left it outside on the porch, let the rain
Trample over the opened pages, and
didn’t realize what I had done
until the downpour subsided
And the rain slowed to a drizzle

When I picked it up next, I cried
Such a small thing to get upset over
But lately I’ve been feeling as flimsy as these wet pages
As bendable as the soft paper cover
As fragile as the watered down edges

And lately, I’ve been more and more like water
Like a stream traveling with no destination
Loose, unformed, lacking a single shape
So easily folded into nothing in particular
And as hard as I‘ve been trying,
it seems all I find are shadowed crevices
and because of gravity and because I am water
All I can do is fall through
Separating even more of myself
until I’m just
a
single
drop

But when I opened the book, I saw that my notes
Haphazardly scribbled– were unmarred
The spine of the cover– intact
and the dog eared pages– still folded

When I saw this, I cried again.
And as the droplets began to fall once more,
As the gray clouds danced against the wind,
I laid my book beneath the fan
Walked outside, let my limbs fall languidly
          Felt my body flow north
And joined the rain

Home and Heaven

Home and Heaven

Imagine angels playing an invigorating game of soccer on a heavenly cloud–their wings damp from exertion and halos knocked askew from all the movement. The Cherubim sit on the golden bleachers cheering while the Strongholds coach their players on the field. The Seraphim referee the game while God keeps score.

The Guardian Angels and Archangels are tied. Intensity fills the crowd as Michael dribbles the ball down the field with only a minute left to play. Before he makes it to an ideal position to score, Harmony swoops in for the blessed steal. The angels go wild spilling raspberries and peanuts on the cloudy floor. The ball is kicked to the angel Afriel. It’s a give-and-go and Harmony launches it into the goal right past Gadreel. The last goal has been made and all the angels cheer. In a fit of excitement the winged warriors doggy pile on Harmony and accidentally break off a piece of their celestial cloud.

Unaware of their actions, the tiny piece of heaven bursts through Earth’s atmosphere, spiraling down until it gently lands upon a section of the planet where the edge of the ocean meets the horizon. It is in this area of the sea where the cloud sinks to the bottom and like a mustard seed, sprouts from the ocean floor.

An island is created.

There is calmness spread from the movement of nature. Clouds collide into one another, crafting shapes that no one sees the same way. The sound of the wind dances through the people and shifts the beads of sand creating a ballad of tranquility. But even when the land lays still and the people go to sleep, there is music in the silence. The warmth of the sun seeps into their skins and light is injected into every pore. In their veins, sunrises begin to form.

In that space, the ocean gleams in cerulean waves, the ceaseless sunshine reflects from vibrant leaves onto the eyes of a beloved, and the trees within the vicinity sway to the rhythmic melody of the breeze. In the early morning light, multifarious hues of purples and pinks bless the moving waters with a pale shadow; but in the coming twilight, the skies melt to an extravagant canvas that only the hands of a god could create.

People will often ask, “What do you call this place.”

The only reply is, “Home.”

 

A World Without Bees

By Via Justine De Fant

The first time I came into contact with a bee, I was four, naive, and playing with flowers in the backyard with my dad. Imagine my surprise when, upon picking up a wildflower, I felt a sharp sting on my arm and noticed nothing except for the gangly petals and yellow center of the flower I held in my hand. Completely distraught I ran to my father and cried, “Daddy, the flower bit me.” Of course, I was too young to understand that flowers didn’t possess that capability and I promised myself never to trust another pretty thing again. Now, that mentality lasted up until first grade, but that’s an entirely different article.

The second time I came into contact with bees, I was in the second grade, a little less naive, and playing a game of tag with my friends. All seemed to be going well until I ran smack dab into a bee hive and received not just one, but two stings. With my dad unavailable to guide me and through the prompting of my all too eager classmates, I peed on my arm to relieve the pain of the sting not realizing that the school nurse had a better method awaiting me. Thus, grew my disdain for these small critters for being responsible for the humiliation I still cringe from to this day.

Fast forward to middle school when I first watched Bee Movie with Jerry Seinfeld, where a human and a bee fall in love. I won’t pain you with the details, but suffice it to say that it did not aid my perception of these insects in the least. The release of this movie, coupled with the fact that my father is deathly allergic to bees worked to solidify my distaste for them. Or so I thought.

It goes without saying that my appreciation for these small creatures is one recently formed. It wasn’t until I took a class in environmental philosophy and learned more about climate change and Colony Collapse Disorder that I realized the severity of the effects of their impending extinction. Delving more into this issue, I gained insight into our busy friends and found that my dislike for them was unjustified.

For one, bees truly are magnificent creatures. We swat at them when they buzz by or run in the other direction when they come towards us, but remain completely unaware of how much these coin-sized creatures contribute to our everyday lives. Not only are they responsible for 80% of pollination that goes down, but also nearly ⅓ of our diet consists of produce that bees pollinate– this includes food such as almonds, strawberries, mangoes, apples, and a plethora of other produce. In fact, they are the only insects that create food that humans can eat. One in every 3 bites of our diet is possible because of bees.

More than that, they are hardworking and highly intelligent. Worker bees are disciplined and highly organized. They are constantly at work transferring pollen and seeds from one plant to another. This aids in reproduction and cross-pollination, which creates diversity within plant life. Which, as we didn’t learn from Hitler, is essential for survival of all species. Furthermore, bees are known to recognize human faces and are natural born architects. In fact, Thomas Hales, an American mathematician, proved that the geometry of honeycombs is the most beneficial shape that they could have created. The hexagonal shape of a honeycomb allows for the most storage of honey with the least amount of wax needed to create the structure. In addition to this, when bees find that their hives to be insufficient to their growing colonies, each working bee swarms and searches for a new place to stay. Despite these creatures seeming to be a monarchy, they practice democracy within their community by voting on whether or not they find their potential new home to be sufficient to the current population.

By now, I’m sure you get it. Bees are freaking cool. But big deal, right? Why should you care? Let’s delve into the science of it all.

Some might assume that the extinction of bees would hardly cause a dent in our everyday lives. How can such a tiny creature create such a cataclysmic change? But in actuality, the absence of them would not only directly affect our environment, but also create a domino effect that would lead to numerous negative impacts. They account for the pollination of nearly a quarter of a million plant species. Because of this, plants rely on them to help them reproduce and through that feed the livestock we rely on for meat. Without them, we would be seeing a lot less bacon and steak in our menus. Worse than that, imagine a world without honey. With their demise comes the end of organic honey that has been shown to yield many health benefits.

In addition to this, our economy would take a hit. If there were fewer bees, natural tasks such as cross-pollination would have to be done by hand which is an arduous and cost-consuming process. Bees are responsible for the production of at least 80% of the world’s fruits and vegetables and they account for around 200 billion dollars worth of agriculture revenue.

Their extinction would entail a rise in cost for fruits, vegetables, and produce overall. Although the impact might not seem as severe at first, over time that money will accumulate. This would mean less money to spend on things like your tuition and Beyoncé tickets.

If that’s not enough for you, wait till I tell you about this next horror: no coffee. Because bees are responsible for pollinating the seeds we grind for coffee, also known as coffea arabica, without them you would no longer be able to buy your favorite overpriced Starbucks drink and you’d have to deal with people who need their Matcha Latte double whipped cream two shots of espresso in order to be pleasant during the day.

You might be thinking, “Well, what if I’m not particularly fond of coffee anyways?” To which I ask you, “Are you a fan of comfortable clothing?” In the United States, cotton is the largest cash crop and one of the most affordable fabrics we wear. Just like coffee, it requires the aid of bees to help them grow and reproduce. That would mean a significant lack of production for clothing, mattresses, and every day household goods such as paper towels and tissue paper.

So how can we fix this and keep all the benefits that follow our tiny, buzzing friends?

First we must consider why they are dropping in numbers. For the past decade, beekeepers have noticed a sharp decline in the bee population. This is more commonly known as the Colony Collapse Disorder, which occurs when the amount of worker bees decrease leaving the queen and budding bee babies alone to a only a few nursing bees. There have been many theories to explain how this phenomenon came about, but the main reasons point to issues with pesticides, global warming– or as Donald Trump fondly calls it– a myth, and habitat loss.

Large industries rely on the rapid growth of crops regardless of whether or not it is their season. Because of this, they use harmful agents such as neonicotinoids on many plants that bees pollinate. When the chemicals found in these pesticides interact with our tiny friends, their central nervous systems are attacked. Furthermore, when the bees transfer the nectar they gathered from these infected plants back to their hives, the entire colony is at risk.

As with climate change, the balance between bees and various plant lives is thrown off by affecting the timing in which bees pollinate to the times during the year when plants bloom. For example, if climate change causes flowers to grow during the cold seasons, bees would not be able to sustain the harsh weather causing a decrease in pollination. The rising temperatures due to global warming are creating a drastic effect on both plants and pollinating insects, disrupting the harmony of nature.

Furthermore, with the rise of commercial industries and the false notion that we need material goods in order to reach satiation, many woodlands, forests, and grasslands that are popular homes for hives, are in grave danger. Without carefully considering the impact humans have on nature, we directly harm the ecosystem responsible for providing us the resources that are essential to survival.

There are many steps we can take. For one, we can support local grown foods and farmers who grow certain crops according to the season and stray away from harsh chemicals and pesticides that commercial industries are known to use. Another way we can stop the endangering out these species is by supporting beekeepers, buying raw, organic honey, and spreading awareness. Now is not the time for stagnant advocation. In order to make a change, we must get up, go out, and be active in our pursuits for a healthier ecosystem and in turn, a better planet; an endeavor achievable through little tasks we can do daily. Recycle, pick up trash even though it may not be yours, cut down on fossil fuels, and most importantly, believe that we can overcome this. Do not be quiet and do not stay still. The key to changing this drastic situation is through passion and perseverance. The more people understand the effects that will occur with each dying bee, the more we can work together as a larger collective.

Bee the change.