Ghedion Behonegne

Ghedion Behonegne

Biology Major

Eclectic Tastes

International student from Ethiopia, avid reader, soccer fanatic, amateur comedian (Not really).

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Africa

Dec 3, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

In my never ending quest to educate I’ve assembled some of the most interesting and lesser known facts about my home continent. Enjoy.

1. There are more than 2,000 languages spoken in Africa. Bear in mind that there are only 54 countries.

2. The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world and is larger than the continental United States.

3.  Africa is home to the largest reserves of precious metals in the world. The source of 90% of all platinum reserves, 60% of cobalt reserves and 40% of gold reserves.

4. Africa is home to 8 of the 11 major biomes.

5. During the summer months of June and July, the largest wild migration occurs on the Serengeti. An estimated 2 million Zebra and Wildebeest travel from Tanzania to Kenya in search of fresh grazing grounds.

6. Approximately 30% of Earth’s remaining minerals are found in Africa.

7. Africa is the hottest continent with 60% of its landmass covered in desert and drylands.

8.  Prior to colonization, Africa was composed of 10,000 self governed and autonomous states.

9. Africa burns the most biomass on the planet, yet is only responsible for only 4% of carbon dioxide emissions.

10. The discoveries of ‘Lucy’ (The earliest known hominid remains dated 3.2 million years ago) in Hadar, Ethiopia and a trail of hominid footprints discovered in the Kibish region of Tanzania point to the Rift Valley being the birthplace of humanity.

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Gym Etiquette: A How To Guide

Dec 1, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

After the gorging festivities of the past week have passed, the food babies have been slept off, and the last of the dishes have been washed, all of us who practice some self reflection will have realized something: A workout (or two, or three) is in serious order after we have plowed our bodies with enough calories to store up fat and hibernate through the cold winter months ahead.

For some, the gym is like a second home (No need to read on, for you are well versed), while for others it is a frightening and foreign land filled with large huffing, puffing football players and a collection of other pitfalls and potentially fatal awkward encounters.  This blog post is especially for you, so listen up.

Do: Research and set your own goals. Read up a little bit, there are some fantastic resources for gym goers of all ages and levels. These are my two favorites (1 and 2).  Set your own goals, whether they are aesthetic or performance based, they will help you keep focus and discipline. The purpose of this is so that you can maintain some modicum of self respect, and just so you don’t feel downright silly. 

Don’t: Be a chatty Cathy. Girls and frat bro’s, I’m looking at you. Space and equipment are limited resources. Get in, warm up, work out and get out. Nothing is worse than waiting for someone to use a machine or the squat rack and they spend their ‘rest’ time gossiping for five minutes, or even worse, on their phone. The most insufferable version of this person has headphones with an in line microphone, so you don’t stand a chance of getting their attention- and are left waiting an eternity while you wilt away.

Do: Have a designated workout buddy. Studies have shown that having a partner or a group to workout with can keep you going to the gym for longer and more consistently. Finally, a positive type of peer pressure.

Don’t: Ogle. At the gym you will find a myriad of attractive  and well toned males and females. This coupled with the fact that the majority of them will be engaged in physical activity, in revealing clothing (Yoga pants, how are you such a blessing and a curse?) in front of mirrors makes for an ogle-fest. You do not want to be that girl or guy that gets labelled as a creep due to your wandering eye. So look once (Twice if she’s really cute) and resist the urge and focus on  your workout. Remember that people are there to improve themselves, so staring and gawking is insensitive.

Do: Re-rack and wipe down your equipment after use. Because its sanitary and polite, and because sweat puddles are gross and icky.

Don’t: Lift heavy without a spotter. This one applies more to the guys out there. Nothing is more embarrassing than dropping the barbell on yourself while attempting to bench press*.

*Note: There is one thing actually. This happens when you are bench pressing heavy without a spotter while listening to music with headphones.  Then you reach failure. Now you have a barbell pinning you down to the bench, and blaring music in your ears causing you to lose the ability to gauge how loud your voice is while you ask for help (Or squeal). So you end up repeatedly half shouting then half whispering, “Help! Help? Help.” Until the nearest person so kindly offers some assistance. No, this did not happen to me…

Disclaimer: This did happen to me.

Do: Share. Growing up I was always taught, sharing is caring. So when someone asks you how many more sets you have with those dumbbells, the appropriate response should be, “(Insert how many sets you have left) but you can jump in.” Its courteous and people will be sure to return the favor.

Don’t: Take selfies in the mirror. Whatever your take is on selfies, we are all guilty of having snapped a few in the privacy of our own bathrooms (Why is it that approximately 86.4% of selfies are taken in the bathroom)**.  It is highly frowned upon to take selfies in the gym. Firstly, whenever anyone in your immediate vicinity hears the click of a camera shutter their first thought is, “Why is this person taking a picture of me?” Followed by the realization that you have pulled up your shirt and are holding a flex for the camera. They then shake their heads in disappointment and move on.  This is an exact sequence of events, as they occur, every single time.

**Note: Approximately 73.4% of statistics are made up.

Lastly and most importantly, do go to the gym and enjoy yourself. Strive to make yourself a little bit better everyday, and one day- lo and behold, you will be a vastly improved version of yourself.

To Toot or Not to Toot.

Nov 22, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

You do it. I do it. We all do it. And girls, you have no one fooled, you do it too.



I’m talking about farting, passing gas, cutting the cheese, ripping one, killing the canary, letting one fly, cracking one, cutting one loose or any other colorful euphemism of your choice. Like other taboos it is frowned upon to openly discuss, which makes for many uncomfortable experiences. The closest you can get to any kind of recognized gas passing is participating in or witnessing fart fests with your bros, in which each guy tries to add to the hilarity and depravity of the event by attempting to toot louder and more impressively than all those before. All this teaches us is that it is okay to fart in public as long as you do so more loudly and offensively than the person before you. Allow me to clarify, no it is not.

As natural and universal as it is, flatulence is still widely met with disdain. Thus, all of us tooters are forced to hide in dark corners and areas down wind from those who love us. And so I declare a revolution- I will arm each and every one of you with a definitive guide in guerrilla rectal warfare.

The first step is recognizing what type of toot you deliver. These generally fall into one of four categories.

1. SBS (Silent But Scentless): Gaseous buildup rarely bothers these types as they can dispense their fumes at will without fear of ever being caught as they leave no audible or olfactory evidence. If you belong to this group then consider yourself among the colonically gifted. People in this group have been getting away with tooting since the beginning of time.

2. SBD (Silent But Deadly): People in this category can be likened to ninjas. Silently drifting among us unnoticed then leaving behind a wasteland in their trail.  If you are part of this group then you have quickly learned the value, to steal a phrase, of “the fart and depart”. Your survival has been down to your keen sense of timing. Different strategies will be reviewed later.

3. LAP (Loud And Proud): These farts are loud, jolly and harmless. They are a joyous occasion to behold; just think of a baby giggling and innocently letting a fart out,  aw so cute! However given the general disgust society has for all breed of fart, people in this category are usually among the most troubled due to the loud nature of their toots.

4. LAF (Loud and Foul): These are the most pompous and pretentious of farts. Offensive and brazen, they are almost always met with immediate disgust. They are as rancid in smell as they are repugnant sounding. This guide is especially for you.

Here are some strategies and things to consider for each type of tooter:

For SBS’s: Get outta here. Quit bragging, no one likes a show off.

For SBD’s: Cardio and High Intensity Interval Training are your best friend. You’ll need the speed and endurance to make a hasty exit once you have done your business. Leave before anyone has noticed what you have done. Or if you have more sadistic tendencies, pick someone nearby to be a scapegoat- the sweaty and overweight are perfect. If you are sitting, lean to one side and lift one cheek off the surface you are seated on to ensure a smooth passageway for your flatulence to travel, this is necessary so the stench does not hang on you. Start to take notice at the same time as someone else, pinch your nose and fan the air in front of your face with an expression of discomfort and make a sly, sarcastic comment along the lines of, “Someone had mexican last night.” Works. Every time.

For LAP’s and LAF’s: Setting is key. Since sound is an issue, the louder the setting the better. Bars and clubs are your allies. With factors such as reverberation and resonance likely to be mistaken for that absolutely kickin’ bass, it is an obnoxious tooters dream land. LAP’s, you may wish to employ the sit and lean technique I described earlier, but heed this warning- when sharing a booth or bench with others vibrations can give you away, so plan accordingly. Strong wind also makes for excellent cover and as long as you stand downwind of your peers, you shall go undetected.

This intestinal guerrilla warfare shall continue until we learn to embrace our bodies and their functions. Until we accept this we will exist in limbo, neither accepting nor rejecting our true human nature. Leaving unidentified odors wafting in the air, lonely, unclaimed and stinky.


Culture Shock 2.0: Ridiculous Questions I’ve Been Asked as a Foreigner

Nov 22, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

I’ve been told that, as an international student, I am an ambassador for my country, an educator if you will. I accept both of these roles graciously, and I am always happy to share information and insights with anyone willing to listen.

However, I’ve been asked too many questions that border on ridiculous and negligent.  In an attempt to clear up some of the mystery surrounding my origins (And point and make fun of some of the more ridiculous questions), I will share some of the most common and ludicrous questions I’ve been asked.

Note: These are all real questions I’ve been asked by students in my three years here. Pinky promise.

Did you see lions on the way to school? Given the reputation for animal tourism that countries in Africa have attained, this is completely understandable (Just as I assume that kangaroos roam the streets of Australia, just hopping about). However, lions and other wildlife are often secluded to wild and rural areas. They tend to avoid people and occasionally will come into contact with farmers and their livestock (Cows tend to make delicious and easy prey). Next one.

Did you have a door? What? Firstly, this is so randomly specific I can’t even begin to understand what would lead someone to wonder about this. Maybe this person had their doors removed from their bedroom as some sort of punishment for bad behavior and, in their desolate and self-pitying state, their friends reassured them by telling them that kids in Africa grew up without doors all the time and turned out just fine. I digress, but seriously though, what? Yes, of course we had doors. And windows. And roofs. And EVEN FURNITURE!! Mind blowing, I know.

Are you two from the same tribe? This question was directed to me (Ethiopian) and one of my Nigerian teammates. The response to which was a blank stare and a somewhat gaped jaw. This question was asked in locker room after practice where banter and obscenities are thicker than the air. This question managed to elicit complete and utter silence. Perhaps the rest of them were just wondering the same thing. But alas, no. Our countries are separated by half the continent and thousands of miles.

Did you have an elephant? I’ll take blame when it is deserved. This question stemmed from a rumor that I (In my devious ways) had devised for my own amusement. It started off when I had a picture posted on facebook of me feeding an elephant. Someone then asked me if they ate a lot, and “whew, they must be expensive to feed”. Instead of taking my usual course and explaining some of the stereotypes of Africa aren’t necessarily always true, I decided that some fun was to be had out of this situation. So I named my elephant Rosie and always shared stories of how gentle and friendly she was, how she would always give me rides to far away villages and so on.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually have an elephant, and I didn’t live in a village.

Did you go to school in trees? This person obviously had some pretty weird misconceptions about the schooling system in Africa. I mean how impractical would it be to have to go to school in a tree? Would you have to walk (swing) to other classes? Would each class be on a different branch? If so, how many students could you fit onto a single branch? Logistics, man; there are just too many technical issues to figure out here.

Did you have to kill a lion when you were 13 to prove you were a man? I attribute this question to the commonly told story of the Maasai. The Maasai are a remote tribe in Kenya who are famous for their picturesque dressing and rites of passage. One of these rituals involves boys from the ages of 10-15 grouping up and hunting a male lion with only spears to prove their bravery and fearlessness. Fortunately (for the lion), I never endured such a test of my brittle.

How’d you speak English so good? Went to an international school, listened.

Doesn’t it take long to get home?  Yes, two 7 hour flights.

Are you Indian? I’m Ethiopian, but I can understand the confusion. Ethiopians have a distinct set of physical features that are atypical of  most of Africa (Barring Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti). These include but are not limited to: fairer complexions, high cheek bones, large foreheads, thin noses and large eyes.

Ethiopia in Map of Africa


33 International students on the most surprising things about America/Canada.

Nov 19, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

As an international student, the question ‘Where are you from?’ is often met with astonishment and surprise. Generally speaking, American students are very excited to learn about students from other countries and the quirks and eccentricities of their cultures. However, not many consider how foreign and bizarre American culture can appear to visiting foreigners. So for your education and entertainment, I have compiled a list of responses to the question, “What was the most surprising thing about America/Canada when you came here for school?”

  1. M . 22. Ukraine. Bathroom attendants.
  2. F. 21. Ukraine. That it is a financial strain to eat healthy.
  3. F. 19. Lebanon. Portion sizes.
  4. M. 24. Montenegro. Twerking*.
  5. M. 19. Ethiopia. The cold weather.
  6. M. 19. Scotland. Drive-thru pharmacies.
  7. F . 22. Finland. Lack of sidewalks.
  8. M. 24. Ghana. Racism.
  9. M. 22. Nigeria. Buffalo wings, what the hell is going on? Bagels and cream cheese, I loved it. Unlimited pizza. Ice machines.
  10. F. 23. Finland. The food is tasteless. Not enough hot guys.
  11. M. 24. Saudi Arabia. Four seasons.
  12. M. 18. Albania. The parties.
  13. M. 19. Zambia. The girls are crazy.
  14. F. 21. Myanmar. Competitive spirit.
  15. M.  22. Saudi Arabia. Girls wearing pajamas in class.
  16. M. 19. Argentina. So many different cultures.
  17. F. 23. Ethiopia. Seeing white people doing construction and janitorial jobs.
  18. M. 20. Tanzania. High cost of living, high multiculturalism, high Catholic religiosity, conservatism.
  19. F. 22. Kenya. Opportunities for people of all ages.
  20. F. 21. Gambia. People getting annoyed at calling fries, chips, calling soccer football and calling parking lots car parks.
  21. F. 24. Rwanda. Lack of privacy, lack of boundaries.
  22. M. 23. Kenya. Girls being harder to hook up with [Than they show in movies].
  23. M. 24. Finland. People dressed like bums in class. People being so polite.
  24. F. 22. Finland. There’s not that many fat people. People here are so nice.
  25. F. 24. Finland. Healthier food.
  26. M. 22. Egypt. Subway more prominent than McDonald’s.
  27. M. 21. Ghana. Cupcakes being 2/3rds frosting and 1/3 cupcake.
  28. F. 22. Kenya. The obsession with trends.
  29. F. 20. Kenya. Adjusting to the South’s slang and accent.
  30. M. 22. Kenya. The friendliness of the people.
  31. M. 22. Zimbabwe. The hotness of the women.
  32. F. 18. Eritrea. Everything is huge.
  33. M. 22. Zimbabwe. How relaxed everyone is in regards to drugs in Vancouver.

*By far, the most common response to this question was twerking. My personal response to this question would have been, like many above me (Removed for the sake of redundancy), twerking. Having grown up in a fairly Western household, and having visited the US twice before I came to university here, I was quiet familiar with American culture. However, the one phenomenon I had not been exposed to was twerking. For those that do not know what twerking is click on the hyper-linked text.

My first contact (Literally) with twerking came in the form of an abrupt collision. I was a freshman attending a fraternity party off-campus. There in that dim-light basement I made my way through the crowd of people only to be struck square in the thigh by a rogue shoulder. Astonished and bemused as to why a shoulder had hit me in the middle of my leg, I looked down to see a scantily dressed young woman engaging in the aforementioned act on another even more scantily dressed woman, who in turn was twerking on a rather pleased looking gentleman. I was dumbfounded by the level of efficiency displayed in such a depraved act. It was after collecting my lower jaw off the floor, I realized that I had just received my very own culture shock.

Interview with Chef Art

Nov 14, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

Every time you enjoy food from the Dining Commons, there’s a chance tha Executive Chef Art had something to do with it. Whether its setting up out front and preparing sushi while enjoying sake shots with students or taking requests and making authentic Indian cuisine for his vegetarian patrons, he remains busy as ever. I sought him out in his office to find out more about the man that has my taste buds dancing.

Where are you from? I grew up in South Utica. I grew up about a mile and a half away from here. I used to come here as a kid to go swimming in the pool. I used to go to basketball games, listened to WPNR; they used to have good music back then.

Did you eat your veggies? Pretty much. It was different from now. When I grew up you had one meal for dinner, and if you didn’t eat that, you pretty much didn’t eat. I have kids now, so when they want something a little different, I’ll make it. Back then, if you didn’t like it, then fine, but you were asked to try it. That’s why I tried everything and I like everything.

Where did you get your training? I was lucky enough to work with some very talented people; I always tried to learn something from them. I worked for a catering company for a while, which made it easier for me to do a number of things, whether it was working a bah mitzvah, to doing backyard barbecues, to doing wedding receptions, to doing breakfast/lunch/dinner items, to doing cocktail parties so a wide variety of things.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? I think it was in 1988. I went to school for advertising and communications. After I  graduated, I spent a summer in Nantucket. I worked in a restaurant out there and it just worked. It was fun, I enjoyed it. Instead of selling advertising and putting stuff in magazines or print or billboards or radio, you use that creative outlet to put things on a plate. It’s a little bit more intimate. If I prepare you a meal, it’s more intimate than seeing an ad on a billboard. You can use your creative outlets in the same way. Also if you work in a restaurant, you eat well. The subculture that came after work was fun.

What do you mean by “subculture?” When you work in a restaurant, it’s busy. You work until midnight, so in those late night hours, you go out with everyone you work with and unwind and hang out.

Favorite memory of food? My dad cooked a lot, particularly bread dough. There was a certain pan you put it in. Where I lived, there was a stool in front of the oven, so watching the bread rise, and cutting it and panning it and baking it… Just the smell of the fresh bread; every time, it takes me right back. We’d always go out and pick berries, digging up horseradish, looking for wild mushrooms. That was time spent with my dad that kind of had a relationship with food. You’re out there spending time with him and picking berries, and making preserves. Just that whole process from gathering to eating, it was always memorable.

Favorite equipment to use? [Drags out box of gadgets and equipment] Pretty straight forward, I don’t have too many but I like this hand held immersion blender, this fresh juice squeezer, microplane for zesting. I like the blender for smoothies, sauces, dressings or soup; its always my go to thing. I used to have a coffee grinder, and I used to heat the spices up and blend them in there, like black pepper, cardamom, coriander seeds and you’d open it up and whoof; it kinda excites.

And your favorite food to make? Pretty much all of them. If you ask me to cook Italian food, or Asian food, or American comfort food, or Spanish/Latin food – I’m pretty much open to everything. I enjoy cooking them all.

Funniest kitchen incident? Uhm. I don’t know. I guess the camaraderie we had with the staff. You never play with service, and a kitchen is not the best place to prank people, with all the knifes and heat and grease.

Fair enough, any advice for aspiring chefs? Yeah, be a dentist. [Laughs]. You work 3 days a week, and half days at that. But yeah, be simple and don’t be afraid to try new things. I always try to keep it simple, and just realize it’s not easy. People see these chefs on TV, but in reality, it’s not that glamorous. It’s an 80-hour work week, and you’re working weekends and nights and holidays. It’s more difficult than you anticipate, like everything.


In case all this talk about food has got your imagination and taste buds going, here’s 100 cheap and easy recipes for all you dorm chefs out there.

8 Tips for Incoming Freshman

Nov 7, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

I sit here on my throne of having reached the pinnacle of my college experience as part of a few elite. I’m a senior; I belong to the wisest and most experienced few, in all affairs that are collegiate that is. Here are a few tips to help navigate the murky waters for the uninitiated (Incoming freshman, I’m looking at you).

1. Ditch the lanyard. This is the easiest give away, by far.

2. If you are sitting in the front row of a class and have your laptop out, bear in mind that everyone behind you can see you updating your Twitter or stalking your ex on Facebook. You pay to go to school, so pay attention.

3. Under no circumstances brag about your ACT/SAT score, barring the admissions office- no one cares.

4. Understand the type of person you are, and plan your schedule accordingly. If you are a night owl, taking 8.30’s everyday of the week will only set yourself up for catastrophic failure. Conversely, if you are an early riser, those three-hour night classes might encroach into your bedtime. Be wary.

5. If you’re the shy type, join student organizations, go to seminars and meetings hosted on campus. Join a team if you are of the athletic persuasion,  or go Greek. Once that seasonal depression hits and your roommate is the only person you have socialized with for the last half of the semester, you’ll be thankful you did.

6. On roommates, don’t room with close friends. Every healthy relationship needs some degree of separation. If the only person you hang out with happens to sleep 7 feet away from you, frustrations will arise and friendships could potentially be irreparably damaged.

7. Forget high school; this is your chance for a fresh start. Freed from the mundane social imprisonment of high school, you have the chance to blossom into the person you were meant to be. Or you can hold on to your past accomplishments and let them shackle you and never grow.

8. Skip the burger and fries combo. The freshman fifteen is a real and cruel mistress, transforming cute coeds into unrecognizable blobs over the course of two semesters. Wise up and eat heatlhy-ish, and work out. Your body will thank you for it.

On studying, slacking and some.

Oct 16, 2013 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

The early bird gets the worm.  I guess there is some truth in that, and in regards to studying, it could not apply more. I’m a senior this year; I’ve seen many students come and go, and with that, the whole spectrum of studying habits: everything from your child-prodigy-never-had-to-study to the perennial slacker and everything in between. I’ve seen teachers pets so eager to jump down their professors throats that they over prepare and become crippled with anxiety  when it comes time to do tests.

My style, however, is more gung-ho. I’m quite an obsessive person, so when I’m in the mood to do some studying, some studying is going to get done. I understand that everyone has their own personal style and preference when it comes to studying, but I cannot stress enough the importance of good planning matched with good execution. More often than not, that is the difference between students who succeed and those who do not.

With that being said, I’m writing this post at 2 in the AM, with a midterm early tomorrow morning and a lab practical the day after.  I guess you could say I’ve been productive, productively slacking that is.

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