Anyone from Cornell? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-03-2013, 07:35 PM
 
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Anyone here from Cornell? I'm thinking that I might do an early decision there. So far, I really like its emphasis on social justice/environmentalism, and of course the fact that it came in 2nd in peta2's competition to find the most vegan-friendly college.

I would really like to hear about your experiences there! Thanks!

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#2 Old 10-03-2013, 10:12 PM
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I didn't attend Cornell, but it has a very good reputation. At the same time, it's also one of the most expensive schools in the United States. It's well-known for its College of Veterinary Medicine and there have been many social justice activists and publications to come from that institution.

 

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#3 Old 10-03-2013, 10:40 PM
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One of my undergrad concentration committee members, actually the chair of my committe studied ornithology there for his PhD, and got his bachelors in evolutionary biology... or animal behavior. .. I forget.

Anyway, he remarks constantly how it was an amazing experience though constricting. He likened it to suffocating in a lab coat. He also said he's still paying it off, fifteen years later.

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#4 Old 10-03-2013, 10:49 PM
 
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Yeah, I know that it's stupidly expensive. I'll try to apply for a local scholarship if I get a placing. Perhaps a teaching scholarship, because I know they won't be interested in the kind of research I want to do. Otherwise, I'll be working for a looong time before I can pursue a graduate degree.

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#5 Old 10-04-2013, 07:19 AM
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What do you mean by teaching scholarship? I just to make sure I have the right idea before making suggestions. 

 

You could attempt to apply for a student work-study program. There are also fellowships to consider as well as employment with the university you are applying to. (Employees often enjoy excellent tuition discounts). Cornell probably offers several high profile scholarships. You're extremely articulate and erudite, so I think you should definitely apply for those substantial scholarships. 

 

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#6 Old 10-04-2013, 08:16 AM
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I didn't attend Cornell, but it has a very good reputation. At the same time, it's also one of the most expensive schools in the United States.
Few people pay the sticker price at these colleges.....at times I believe the sticker prices are so high to scare away lower socioeconomic folks.

In any case, I wouldn't select a college on its social atmosphere but instead based on how it ranks in your chosen field of study. Cornell may be a good college in general but its individual programs vary in quality.

Also, are you a US citizen? Your location says Singapore so I always assumed that is where you were from. Assuming you'd be a foreign student, I'd suggest doing undergrad in your home country and then doing graduate in the US. Its easy for foreign students to get fellowships and a free-ride on tuition when pursuing academic based graduate degrees but the financial aid available for undergrad degrees is much more limiting. This is the United States way of trying to steal the brightest from other countries.
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#7 Old 10-04-2013, 10:44 AM
 
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What do you mean by teaching scholarship? I just to make sure I have the right idea before making suggestions. 

 

You could attempt to apply for a student work-study program. There are also fellowships to consider as well as employment with the university you are applying to. (Employees often enjoy excellent tuition discounts). Cornell probably offers several high profile scholarships. You're extremely articulate and erudite, so I think you should definitely apply for those substantial scholarships. 

 

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I'm actually referring to a Singaporean one, offered by the Ministry of Education. Though I'm not THAT keen on it, because it'll come with a 6 year bond that I'll have to duke out teaching at the high school level. If it was at the university level, I guess I could work on my own research at the same time, but oh well. Still, it might be the best thing I have. I know that Cornell doesn't offer any merit-based scholarships, and it's really difficult to get a US-based scholarship as an international student.

 

I totally wouldn't mind being a teacher at a university though. Relative financial security, and you can engage in the intellectual side of activism. Seems attractive to me.

 

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Few people pay the sticker price at these colleges.....at times I believe the sticker prices are so high to scare away lower socioeconomic folks.

In any case, I wouldn't select a college on its social atmosphere but instead based on how it ranks in your chosen field of study. Cornell may be a good college in general but its individual programs vary in quality.

Also, are you a US citizen? Your location says Singapore so I always assumed that is where you were from. Assuming you'd be a foreign student, I'd suggest doing undergrad in your home country and then doing graduate in the US. Its easy for foreign students to get fellowships and a free-ride on tuition when pursuing academic based graduate degrees but the financial aid available for undergrad degrees is much more limiting. This is the United States way of trying to steal the brightest from other countries.

 

Thanks for the feedback. I would choose my university based on the strength of its undergraduate programs, but such rankings are extremely difficult to find. I don't believe that the rankings of graduate programs are much of an indicator. What I tried to do, instead, was to look up programs with professors whom I am interested in learning from. To this end I scoured ICAS, but there aren't really any professors who teach undergrad sociology (that, or they don't come from universities I am interested in applying to).

 

I am insistent on studying overseas because Singapore's culture is much too stifling for what I want to research, namely the sociology of the AR movement. Outside the science programs that the government is pumping generous amounts of money into, NUS is really only good for degrees in traditional, tried-and-tested areas.

 

The UK is also an option. It's a lot cheaper, for one, because its undergrad program is only 3 years. Still, UK sociology tends to be very positivist, plus most professors who engage in the kind of research I'm interested in are based in the US.

 

I guess I'm still young. I value my time a lot, especially since I've been wasting 2 years in conscription. I can't wait for my life to start again. So maybe that's why I'm inclined to shrug off the huge cost. I'm a workaholic, so I know that I'll make full use of the time in university.

 

I find what you say about graduate programs reassuring. Though I guess I should still try for a scholarship anyway, because there's no guarantee that I'll get a free grad education.


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#8 Old 10-04-2013, 10:57 AM
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I've taught in several elementary and high schools over the past 10 years, so definitely avoid the teaching scholarship if it forces you into teaching in the public school system. American high schoolers are a trip. Why don't you get in contact with the department heads of the universities you're interested in and establish a dialogue? 

 

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#9 Old 10-04-2013, 11:30 AM
 
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I've taught in several elementary and high schools over the past 10 years, so definitely avoid the teaching scholarship if it forces you into teaching in the public school system. American high schoolers are a trip. Why don't you get in contact with the department heads of the universities you're interested in and establish a dialogue? 

 

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Well, I'd need to both excel in my undergraduate studies AND be a US permanent resident to qualify for most of these scholarships (and logic is right, they only apply at the graduate level). It's much too early to be talking about that. Actually, most universities focus on bond-free fellowships far more than bonded ones, but I'm sure they would be happy to know if you intend to stay.


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#10 Old 10-04-2013, 12:06 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I would choose my university based on the strength of its undergraduate programs, but such rankings are extremely difficult to find. I don't believe that the rankings of graduate programs are much of an indicator.
The rankings for graduate programs are going to tell you a lot about the undergraduate programs because a major component to the rankings is the overall quality of the faculty in the program and its the same faculty for both programs. In general the higher ranked programs will have more well known professors and that will become important if you apply to graduate programs later as letter of recommendation from well known academics carry a lot more weight than a letter from someone that is relatively unknown.
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I am insistent on studying overseas because Singapore's culture is much too stifling for what I want to research, namely the sociology of the AR movement.
Most work done on animal rights in the US is coming from people with a philosophy or law background, in sociology one wouldn't study the normative aspects of animal rights. Instead one would study the animal rights movement as you would study any other social movement.

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Though I guess I should still try for a scholarship anyway, because there's no guarantee that I'll get a free grad education.
When you apply to a ph.d program at a research university in the US your applications is for admission and fellowships, in most cases they won't even admit you if you don't quality for the fellowship. So say you applied and got accepted to Cornell's sociology ph.d program, typically you'd get a fellowship that covered your tuition and provided you with a yearly stipend of around $16,000 for living costs. You'll be required to teach, do research, etc in return for the fellowship. On paper this looks like a lot of money, around $55~60,000 a year, but in reality it costs the department much less than this because the department only has to pay 10~20% of the "on paper" tuition for its graduate students. So the out of pocket cost for the department is more like $24,000 and is a relative bargain given that you'll be teaching, etc for the department.
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#11 Old 10-04-2013, 08:25 PM
 
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The rankings for graduate programs are going to tell you a lot about the undergraduate programs because a major component to the rankings is the overall quality of the faculty in the program and its the same faculty for both programs. In general the higher ranked programs will have more well known professors and that will become important if you apply to graduate programs later as letter of recommendation from well known academics carry a lot more weight than a letter from someone that is relatively unknown.
Most work done on animal rights in the US is coming from people with a philosophy or law background, in sociology one wouldn't study the normative aspects of animal rights. Instead one would study the animal rights movement as you would study any other social movement.
When you apply to a ph.d program at a research university in the US your applications is for admission and fellowships, in most cases they won't even admit you if you don't quality for the fellowship. So say you applied and got accepted to Cornell's sociology ph.d program, typically you'd get a fellowship that covered your tuition and provided you with a yearly stipend of around $16,000 for living costs. You'll be required to teach, do research, etc in return for the fellowship. On paper this looks like a lot of money, around $55~60,000 a year, but in reality it costs the department much less than this because the department only has to pay 10~20% of the "on paper" tuition for its graduate students. So the out of pocket cost for the department is more like $24,000 and is a relative bargain given that you'll be teaching, etc for the department.

 

The top universities in the US for sociology are pretty the UCs, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The UCs are bad for undergrad studies because the class sizes are damn big, plus they seem to have funding problems right now. Harvard, Yale and Princeton... well, I don't want to waste my Early Decision by doing Early Action for them. I'm not outstanding enough.

 

Other than that, based two main rankings I see (QS and US news), there are a couple of US colleges that are consistently higher than Cornell, being Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia, Michigan and Chicago. I guess that if I'm doing to ED elsewhere, it'll be at one of these. Cornell is still pretty good when it comes to sociology though. Another one I might consider is Northwestern, because they offer a lot of opportunities to get practical research experience with their sociology program.

 

Actually, I don't intend to study the sociology of the normative aspects of animal rights aka the sociology of animal oppression. That's what most AR sociologists are doing, and you can find plenty of work on that topic. In my opinion, we've already said most of what there is to say about it. I'm interested in studying the animal rights movement as you would study any other social movement, as you said. Basically studying its advocacy strategies, perception, shortcomings and the intersectionality of other forms of oppression. I think that this kind of work is important for the movement to mature. The main organisation doing work on that right now is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and they are very new.

 

Thanks for the info on graduate fellowships. I guess I may not apply for a Singapore scholarship after all.


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#12 Old 10-04-2013, 10:22 PM
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The top universities in the US for sociology are pretty the UCs, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The UCs are bad for undergrad studies because the class sizes are damn big, plus they seem to have funding problems right now. Harvard, Yale and Princeton...
As someone that went to a UC for undergrad, I don't agree with this. The only class sizes that are large at UCs are the introductory classes, but they are going to be large at Harvard, etc as well. Most of my non-introductory classes had 5~20 people in them. To me, there are pros and cons to doing undergrad at a UC (or similar public university) or a class like Harvard and which is best is going to demand on the individual.

One thing that always troubled me at private schools is the high amount of grade inflation, A's mean more from UCs than these schools.
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I think that this kind of work is important for the movement to mature. The main organisation doing work on that right now is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and they are very new.
Regardless of whether that work is important to the animal rights movement, you also have to think about how you're going to support yourself when you finish your education.
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#13 Old 10-04-2013, 10:47 PM
 
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As someone that went to a UC for undergrad, I don't agree with this. The only class sizes that are large at UCs are the introductory classes, but they are going to be large at Harvard, etc as well. Most of my non-introductory classes had 5~20 people in them. To me, there are pros and cons to doing undergrad at a UC (or similar public university) or a class like Harvard and which is best is going to demand on the individual.

One thing that always troubled me at private schools is the high amount of grade inflation, A's mean more from UCs than these schools.
Regardless of whether that work is important to the animal rights movement, you also have to think about how you're going to support yourself when you finish your education.

 

What are some of the pros and cons? Sorry, I admit that I don't know very much, and most of what I'm going on is based on student reviews and hearsay.

 

And yeah, I know that it's going to be difficult to have financial security. Which is why I don't really mind getting a job as a university professor. Of course, I don't know how my views will change over the course of university itself.


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#14 Old 10-04-2013, 11:07 PM
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What are some of the pros and cons? Sorry, I admit that I don't know very much, and most of what I'm going on is based on student reviews and hearsay.
The pros and cons are going to depend on the person, you can receive a great education in either case.

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And yeah, I know that it's going to be difficult to have financial security. Which is why I don't really mind getting a job as a university professor. Of course, I don't know how my views will change over the course of university itself.
You wouldn't mind? I hope not...but you're speaking as if becoming a university professor is something that is up to you.....but these jobs are highly competitive especially in fields like sociology that don't have much commercial value. The number of people that graduate with ph.ds greatly out-number the available positions at universities and the university jobs are usually the first choice.

Your views are likely to change a lot as you study, but by being overly idealistic is a recipe for regret.
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#15 Old 10-04-2013, 11:39 PM
 
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The pros and cons are going to depend on the person, you can receive a great education in either case.
You wouldn't mind? I hope not...but you're speaking as if becoming a university professor is something that is up to you.....but these jobs are highly competitive especially in fields like sociology that don't have much commercial value. The number of people that graduate with ph.ds greatly out-number the available positions at universities and the university jobs are usually the first choice.

Your views are likely to change a lot as you study, but by being overly idealistic is a recipe for regret.

 

Well, I think that being motivated is a good thing. If I'm going to regret it later, than so be it. There is also regret that stems from taking the 'safe' route and not having pushed yourself. Anyway, thank you for your advice.


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#16 Old 10-05-2013, 01:19 AM
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There is also regret that stems from taking the 'safe' route and not having pushed yourself.
I'm not sure I understand this, being prudent with your future doesn't being you're being lazy....rather the opposite.

I've yet to know someone that regretted being prudent....that thought "hey I should have behaved more risky when I was young". Its always the opposite, people regret not planning better for what lay ahead.
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#17 Old 10-05-2013, 01:47 AM
 
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I'm not sure I understand this, being prudent with your future doesn't being you're being lazy....rather the opposite.

I've yet to know someone that regretted being prudent....that thought "hey I should have behaved more risky when I was young". Its always the opposite, people regret not planning better for what lay ahead.

 

I think that prudence means not wasting your time away 'living in the moment' and indulging in excessive hedonism. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't have dreams or ambition. My definition of playing it 'safe' means going for a desk job that provides financial security over something you can be truly passionate about. Plenty of Singaporeans do this, and they experience midlife crises because they're 40 and still waiting for something big to happen. Money isn't my definition of happiness.

 

Besides, it's not as though sociology is a useless degree. Anyway, I really don't want to get into this debate. 10 years down the road, if it doesn't work out, you can tell me 'I told you so' and I'll bow my head in shame.


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#18 Old 10-05-2013, 10:10 AM
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I think that prudence means not wasting your time away 'living in the moment' and indulging in excessive hedonism. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't have dreams or ambition. My definition of playing it 'safe' means going for a desk job that provides financial security over something you can be truly passionate about. Plenty of Singaporeans do this, and they experience midlife crises because they're 40 and still waiting for something big to happen.
I never suggested that one should not have dreams or ambition, instead that they should be prudent. What I pointed out earlier was that you were just focusing on what was important for the animal rights movement and not what was important for yourself. I would encourage anybody to "follow their dreams" so long as their dream provided a viable living, but I would suggest that they need to be realistic and have a plan B and C as well.

I'm sure there are many people as you describe, but there are also many people that had big dreams when they were young and now are miserably clocking in the hours at dead-end job. The goal should be to avoid both situations.

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Besides, it's not as though sociology is a useless degree. Anyway, I really don't want to get into this debate. 10 years down the road, if it doesn't work out, you can tell me 'I told you so' and I'll bow my head in shame.
I'm not trying to debate you, instead I'm explaining how the US educational system works and the difficulties of obtaining a professorship in the US. You are speaking of obtaining a professorship as if its your "safe" back-up plan, but its no such thing. I would much rather things work out for you than have the opportunity to say "I told you so".

Commercially a sociology degree is pretty close to "useless" and by that I mean there are few jobs people with such degrees. Personally I think there are other problems with sociology as well, but I wasn't trying to focus much on your particular degree choice.

In any case, good luck.
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#19 Old 10-05-2013, 10:24 AM
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Cornell is a very good school. There are also lots of smaller colleges and universities in the US that value diversity in their student body, and can give generous scholarships to bright young people from overseas. smiley.gif

This article is a couple of years old, but seems to have some good info.

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2011/03/24/scholarship-sources-for-international-students
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#20 Old 10-05-2013, 11:19 AM
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I'm going to agree with what logic has stated. Both of my parents are university/college professors and the opportunity (and availability) to become a professor (especially a tenured one) is far less available. This is a pattern that is seen in many schools throughout the United States. Higher education jobs are hard to become by with shrinking private contributions and endowments, and the decline in some degree programs at schools. Due to the economy here, many schools are shuttering departments, laying off tenured faculty, and rightsizing their operations. There is also a decrease in university attendance rates across the board for a variety of reasons. Additionally, many institutions aren't hiring as many full time professors and are instead hiring adjuncts.

 

I think that you need to have a solid plan if things don't go as planned. I'm currently changing careers and fortunately I have family support here and some of my own resources while I continue to slate this change (it's not there just yet). You don't want to put yourself in a position where you 1) Have an education but can't obtain work in your chosen field or 2) Have agreed to a fellowship that in the end doesn't result in permanent employment 3) Be laden with debt and chose an undesirable field to make ends meet. Being overly ambitious is more dangerous than being overly prudent.

 

Also consider that sociology has very little practical (or commercial value) as logic has stated. There are what we call hard sciences (chemistry, physics, engineering, etc) that have high practical value and demand. That is not necessarily true of the soft sciences such as sociology, anthropology, psychology (outside of clinical work), or ethics. Outside of academia, these soft science have little value unless you can combine them with more practical skills (management, entrepreneurship, consultancy) . When I was in high school, my chief interest was American history and politics and I envisioned going to school for that. Fortunately, some family members pointed out to me that wasn't probably the best idea. Instead I chose elementary education which is a practical field (to a point). While I'm changing fields now, I always made it a point in the past to do other things while I was teaching. I was a director in a fine arts association, I taught piano lessons, concertized on the piano, and played piano gigs. Additionally, I got a Master's in an entirely different area (Strategic Human Resource Management) and worked as a intern in that capacity when I took a break from education a few years ago (as well as acting as a pro bono advisor). What I'm trying to communicate is that you should make yourself as marketable as possible and have many different avenues for success.

 

I'm wishing you much success as always and (returning this to the thread topic) I hope you can find some individuals to connect with who have attended or are planning to attend Cornell so that you can gain an inside perspective. I will say again, though, try to establish some sort of relationship with the schools that you are interested in. You never know where this could lead.

 

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Okay, yeah, I get what you guys are saying. I've read a piece before on how the younger generation has been born with the romanticised view that we're all capable of making a difference if we try, and it gives us inflated hopes of what we want to achieve in life. Maybe I'm like that. I do plan to make full use of the internship programs offered by whichever college I go to, so perhaps that will allow me to build connections with future employers. I'm far more interested in nonprofit work in general, but at least there is much more scope for employment in terms of human rights and welfare. Anyway, I don't have any plans to leave VB for awhile, so I guess we'll see how it turns out.

 

I am not, by the way, taking a loan to study overseas. I have the money. But I won't be able to afford a graduate degree without a fellowship.


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#22 Old 10-05-2013, 09:34 PM
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Okay, yeah, I get what you guys are saying. I've read a piece before on how the younger generation has been born with the romanticised view that we're all capable of making a difference if we try, and it gives us inflated hopes of what we want to achieve in life. 

 

Um, you do realize that we're both in the same generation, right? I'm only 27... :worried:

 

As for the rest, well, I certainly hope you stay with VB for a while. Your voice is greatly appreciated. Whatever you do in regards to studies and your career, godspeed! 

 

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#23 Old 10-05-2013, 10:09 PM
 
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Haha, I use generation figuratively! I feel like I'm part of an older generation already, one where you don't have a smartphone at 12.

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Latest post: Serial Experiments Lain and the Upper Layer of Reality
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