Do you ever have those days in the beginning of the year where you don’t have that much homework and you have nothing else to do? I definitely have those days. Here I am going to suggest my favorite binge-worthy Netflix shows, from drama to comedy to classic high school flicks.

The Fosters 
The Fosters, set in San Diego, is about a lesbian couple named Stef and Lena, a police officer and a school vice-principal who are raising a multi-ethnic family. The family consists of one biological and four adopted children, Brandon, Mariana, Jesus, Jude and Callie. 
I recommend this show because it shows that you don’t need to be a blood family to be loved. Social issues are also underlined in every episode’s storyline. The show never pushes a topic on you, but it’s honest about how hard life can be. This series deals with issues such as gay rights, feminism, first loves, suicide, mental illness and the importance of following your dreams. You’ll just grow to care about these characters like they really are your own family. It has taught me personally that family has the unconditional love that is indescribable.  

Shameless is a TV show about the dysfunctional Gallagher family in Chicago’s South Side. The children have to learn how to care for themselves since their single father would rather spend his days drunk.
You can easily relate to at least one character in Shameless on a deep level. Frank Gallagher, the father who you think would have no real substance, actually has a lot of knowledge on real world issues. Frank is well known for his constant ranting sessions about life, and during these times he uses amazing vocabulary that demonstrates how educated he is. 
Even though they are a dysfunctional family, if any of the Gallaghers are in trouble, they will be there for each other always. This family resembles what some American families are like. No family is perfect and this show does a great job showing that the most dysfunctional families can have the most love for each other.

The Vampire Diaries
The Vampire Diaries is a supernatural/fantasy/horror/drama television series based on L. J. Smith’s book series of the same name. The series follows the life of 17-year-old Elena Gilbert who falls in love with both a vampire named Stefan Salvatore and his vampire brother Damon Salvatore. This draws Elena and her friends into the supernatural world of Mystic Falls, a world plagued by vampires, werewolves, witches, doppelgängers and original vampires. As a result, Elena and her friends make enemies, including the Originals and the Travelers.
I suggest The Vampire Diaries because stereotypes are nowhere to be found. Usually the blonde girl with blue eyes is the dumb one, but in this show she is smart, beautiful and passionate. The show also demonstrates how to balance the life of a normal teenager with being the girlfriend of a vampire or being a vampire yourself. Even though vampires aren’t a real life thing, you can still learn from the base issue of liking two brothers and the struggle of  picking one over the other.     
 On the 4th of July, the small town of Riverdale is outraged by the mysterious death of Jason Blossom, one of the most popular kids in the school and a part of the town’s most powerful family. Archie and a group of his friends try to solve the mystery of Jason’s death while dealing with small town issues such as major drug use and hookups. To figure out the mystery, the group of friends must go deeper than what lies on the surface. Little Riverdale may not be as innocent as what meets the eye. 
This show is a must watch! It tackles important issues such as slut shaming, sexual harassment and racism. The females in the show are also strong and confident, especially the mean girl, Polly. Polly’s iconic one line phrases such as "Check your sell-by date, ladies, faux lesbian kissing hasn't been taboo since 1994,” will make you feel that you are as tiny as a grain of salt. Even though Riverdale may come across as a gloomy, suspenseful murder mystery, they do a great job adding some humor into it. And who wouldn’t want to watch a show that has good looking male leads like Cole Sprouse?

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Suffering and pain are omnipresent in the modern world. They steal the sense of life, and sadly, even with the rapid advancements of medicine, there may not be a possibility to save people from pain or death. Therefore, some are turning to a different path to end their suffering.
One of the biggest controversies of this decade is euthanasia, an option that allows certain eligible individuals to legally request and obtain medications from their physicians to end their lives in a peaceful, humane and dignified manner. Is euthanasia ethical? That’s up to you to decide.
Some people see euthanasia as ethical and pragmatic. To them, it relieves patients of their suffering and allows them an honorable death. People should have freedom of choice, including the right to control their own bodies and lives. The state should not create laws that prevent people from being able to choose when and how they die. When someone is suffering, the “quality of life” diminished, and life should only continue as long as a person feels their life is worth living.
Isaiah Monroig, a 15-year old from Boston Latin School, agrees with the ethical view. “People should be relieved of suffering, especially if they have no interest in living,” Monroig said. “People should have the ability to decide what their body goes through.”
On the other hand, some religions oppose euthanasia. They say that humans are the creation of God and so only He should be the only one to choose when someone’s time is up. Committing an act of euthanasia or assisting in suicide is acting against the will of God and is sinful. Even some non-religious people believe that permitting euthanasia “devalues” life. The “slippery slope” argument is based on the idea that once a healthcare service/government starts killing its own citizens, a line has been crossed. According to this theory, legalized voluntary euthanasia could eventually cause:
Very ill people who need constant care to request euthanasia to rid their families of burden
Discouragement of research into treatments and possibly prevent cures for people with terminal illnesses being found
Untimely deaths of those who were misdiagnosed by doctors 
Additionally, medical ethics are a big issue. The Hippocratic Oath, an oath historically taken by physicians, requires them to uphold certain ethical standards. Asking doctors to abandon their obligation to preserve human life could damage the doctor-patient relationship. In turn, people with complex health needs or disabilities could become distrustful of their doctor’s efforts or intentions.
In the end, death may or may not be a tangible option for those who are suffering. Many see it inhumane and wrong while others see it as a solution. What is your stance?

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Jay-Z goes deep on platinum powerhouse 4:44
That’s right, rapper Jay-Z has outdone himself. His latest album, 4:44, reached platinum status in six days, based purely on streams from its initial exclusive release to Tidal and Sprint subscribers. 
In order for an album to become certified platinum, it must sell one million copies. In this case, Jay-Z reached platinum status based on streams. 
While posing next to his award, Jay-Z looked at the camera with a “What did you expect?” face, rather than a “This is awesome, I hit platinum” face. Considering this is his 13th solo studio album to go platinum, I think he is used to it by now. According to hip-hop magazine XXL, Jay-Z is the only rapper to have more than 10 platinum albums to his name.
What made this album so special? Was it the fact that it went platinum on his streaming site Tidal before being released to other streams? The long wait before getting new music from him? Or the important messages behind songs like “Story of OJ”?
Ding, ding, ding! The answer is all of the above. 
For the first six days after its June 30th release, only pre-existing subscribers to Tidal and Sprint could listen to and purchase the album. This created a huge buzz and anticipation for fans outside these platforms. 
There could be many reasons why we had to wait so long for a new album, but it’s likely because Jay-Z was finding a new perspective on life. 4:44 as an album is focused on race issues, the struggles of minorities and family conflicts. Today’s rapper are more focused on talking about their Saturday nights and what car they drive—that is, if you can even understand them. 
Every song on 4:44 has a message that connects to the heart of many people in the black community. In the song, “Story of OJ”, Jay-Z talks about the black community advancing itself into the future. 
If you haven’t already listened to Jay-Z’s latest gem, make sure to listen to it. 

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With cultural icons like Malia Obama and actress Yara Shahidi both announcing their attendance at Harvard University, more minority students are deciding to further their education.
Harvard University recently made headlines as a majority of its incoming freshmen class is made up of minority students. The Boston Globe reports that 50.8 percent of students admitted to Harvard are minorities from backgrounds such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. This number is an increase from last years 47.3 percent. 
This uptick shows minorities are making important decisions to further their education through college. Further studies support this. In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time, Hispanic college enrollment rate trumped the enrollment rate of whites, 49 to 47 percent.
While these numbers show progress for minority students in higher education, students of color across Boston face unique experiences and challenges as they prepare for college. 
15-year-old Jacky Garces, a student at Excel Academy Charter High School, whose family is originally from Colombia, is currently enrolled in an advanced placement history class. She is excited for AP classes, but is nervous it will be time consuming. Garces is positive she will maintain good grades if she stays focused on her studies. She feels supported by her parents, but also feels pressured because her parents did not attend college, therefore, she must attend. 
Cyril Robinson, 15, also from Excel Academy, faces other difficulties. Robinson describes himself as a good student, but has different techniques for learning. He also thinks he struggles in school with time management and forming teacher relationships.
As college admission for minority students grows, the experiences of students once they are in college should be given greater thought. Christopher Grant, Associate Director of Student Success in Enrollment Management at Emerson College and co-founder of EmersonWRITES, says through his line of work he definitely sees more minorities enrolling and attending college. However, he believes more can be done for minority students.
“First, on the financial aid side, there definitely could be a lot more help for first generation students. Then, also on the academic side, I think there could be more classes geared towards this generation, especially more diverse classes.” 
As more minority students populate college campuses, it is important to provide support to the changing dynamics. “The best way to combat all the racial tension is to be able to inform people and have students see the world through the classroom,” said Grant. 

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From ballpark to Boston, Alex’s Chimis brings fresh Dominican fare
Walking into Alex’s Chimis feels very welcoming. The modest Jamaica Plain restaurant has a lot of big windows, making it easy to see into from the outside. The menu, written mostly in Spanish, hangs above the register—the employees were very helpful, explaining the dishes in English. I spoke to Clara Lopez, the owner’s wife, about the origins of Alex’s Chimis.
Alex Lopez, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, traces his restaurant roots to baseball. After games, Lopez’s team would come to his house for homemade Dominican-style burgers called chimis. One day, a friend gave him the idea to sell chimis at the ballpark. People seemed to really enjoy them, so Lopez decided to take his business a step further. He needed a bigger space. In October 1998, he bought that space—358 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.
The Lopez’s main focus is the community. Most of their employees are locals—friends and friends of friends. All of their food is homemade and they use the same recipes they have been using since the restaurant opened. The prices are very low and affordable.
“[Our] prices haven’t increased in five to six years,” Lopez said. “Our goal isn’t to take all of people’s money but to share our food and culture with the community.”
Alex’s menu features a variety of meat including chicken, ribs and pork. The Lopez’s also sell chimi combos, which include a sandwich, fries and a soda. The restaurant offers a wide variety of smoothies and juices, from orange to mango to pineapple and more. Flan, pastelitos and stuffed potatoes are also popular dishes.
When I visited Alex’s Chimis, I had the chicken chimi combo. It was lunch hour when I went so the restaurant was packed, but I still got my food surprisingly fast. The chicken was sliced and mixed with onions and tomatoes. The bread was perfectly toasted; it wasn’t too hard, but it wasn’t soft enough for it to rip. The fries weren't overly salty, and you could tell they were freshly cut from potatoes instead of being bought frozen.
Alex’s Chimis has good service and great food. I would recommend this small, family-owned restaurant to anyone in the neighborhood who is looking for a quick meal.

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