Reflection

It’s that thing looking back at you in the mirror or a pond or a shiny spoon: your reflection! How much time do we actually spend reflecting—thinking about our past successes, failures, improvements, and memories? Well, in this post, I’d like to do just that and give you some advice to REFLECT!

1. Reflect on SUCCESSES

A lot of us focus our energy on what’s not working, what could be better, what we don’t have that others do, but more than once in a while, it’s also a good idea to focus on the positive things about ourselves! Think about your successes this past academic year. What have you achieved? Did you land a cool internship? Did you overcome an incredibly difficult class? Did you receive an award or scholarship? And of course, success doesn’t equate to only huge achievements. Small ones count, too! It’s all relative, anyway. Did you meet new friends? Did you try a new activity or club? Reflect on it and tell yourself that you ARE worth it!

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2. Reflect on FAILURES

I just told you to focus on the positive because more often than not we don’t, but…yes, readers, it is also important to reflect on your failures. I don’t say this as a method to bring your mood or self-esteem down; rather, I suggest it for just the opposite! Yes, that seems weird, doesn’t it? Buuuut…when you think of something that you weren’t able to quite accomplish this school year, it helps motivate you to try harder or simply try again the next time! Can you aim to get better grades next semester? Can you apply for other internships if you didn’t get into your dream place? Can you budget more effectively so that you’re a little less broke after the semester ends? Can you adopt an open mind so you can get more involved? Thinking about the mistakes you’ve made helps you learn from them, and thinking about your failures encourages you to set goals for the future!

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3. Reflect on IMPROVEMENTS

As students and humans, we are just so busy with doing the next thing and the thing after that, leaving us no time to reflect upon our improvements and progress in various areas of our lives! Take a moment to mentally–or physically by writing it down–measure how much you’ve improved this year. This can be in terms of as a student, a worker, a family member, a friend, a person–whatever roles you take in your life. Were you able to manage your time better this year versus another time? Were you able to learn how to work more effectively at your job? Were you more supportive of that friend who needed you? Measuring your growth is vital in helping you understand how far you’ve come and how much farther you’ll go.

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4. Reflect on MEMORIES

What is reflection without thinking about all those good times you spent with people who matter to you? Did you go to awesome events together? Did you go on a road trip with your friends? Did you host an awesome event for your organization? Bust out your phone and swipe through some fantastic pics immortalizing your memories and moments!

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What else do like reflecting on? Comment below!

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Perks of Being a 21-Year-Old

No folks, I’m not talking (just) about the ability to now legally drink. 

Over spring break, I turned 21! I was absolutely surprised on my birthday: my father had contacted some of my friends beforehand and gathered them at the mall. When I walked into the mall, my jaw dropped at the sight of my awesome friends huddled together at a table in the food court! I received amazing gifts from them, spent a lot of time purchasing jewelry from Icing, and ate a cup of Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzels for lunch, but most of all, I made beautiful memories with my comrades. Later, my family and I ate a mouth-watering dinner at Ricky’s Thai. All in all, it was one of my favorite birthdays ever!

Although I didn’t have my first drink on my 21st birthday, I did a lot of other cool things. I want to share with y’all three perks of being a 21-year-old.

1. #Adulting

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In theory, you are legally an adult when you turn 18. But, in my experience, when you turn 21, it gets REAL. Reality starts to hit you: “Oh my gosh, I’m 21…I should probably learn how to do some important things…..” Of course, individuals are striving to be independent at any age, but I think to many people, the age of 21 is a marker in a person’s life. As a fresh 21-year-old, I would like to take further steps in building independence by continuing to learn to cook, for starters! I’m planning on getting a cookbook for beginners soon. I would also like to consolidate my career plans for the future–they’re still a bit murky right now! This includes thinking about education, jobs, and passions. But keep in mind, age is just a number; what matter more are your dreams and aspirations. 

2. Change

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As the age of 21 is viewed as a milestone for some, people tend to view this as a “new era” or a time for enacting change. When you’re 21, you get this renewed energy to change things in your life–like bad habits, for example–or make resolutions. You also feel like you want to make a difference in others’ lives–be the difference. In truth, you have the ability to change and enforce change at any age, any time of the year, any moment of your life. The ability to change and make change lies within you, not in a number! 😉

3. Responsibility

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This kind of goes along with number 1, #Adulting, but it’s still a little different. When you turn 21, you might get a lot of responsibilities thrown at you. Unfortunately, many people view this as a magical age signaling adulthood, but again–it’s just a number. Truth is, you might not be quite ready for all of these new responsibilities all at once. But good news–you can do it! Use others’ sometimes judgement of “She’s 21, so she’s an adult now” to your advantage. By this, I mean take these new responsibilities and expectations as a challenge to promote personal growth. See it as a positive! (And also, responsibility as in…please drink responsibly, too!)

Sooo…these are just a few perks of being 21. I’m sure there are a million others–comment below!

 

The Importance of a Mentor

Recently, I was accepted as part of the first cohort of fifty students for the Road to Communication and Media Mentoring Program. It is a new initiative led by Career Services’ Stacey Kohler that pairs a student with a Rutgers alumnus who is working in a communication field. This includes Content Creation and Editing, Digital Marketing (Social Media), Media and Advertising Sales, Media Production, Public and Corporate Relations, and Web and Graphic Design. I am very interested in content creation, or the production and contribution of information to media, and so I was paired up with an awesome mentor, who I will refer to as M. for confidentiality reasons, in that sub-field.

As a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program, this is the first time that I’m in the shoes of a mentee, which is exciting in and of itself! Even more exciting is the journey that I have ahead with M.  in this mentoring relationship. Just this past weekend, we had our first ever meeting (of course at Hidden Grounds because why not?!), and I have to admit, I was definitely a little nervous about it, but that quickly changed into a mix of emotions–excitement, happiness, and thankfulness. So here’s just a short list of three reasons why everyone should have a mentor!

1.  SUPPORT

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I honestly believe that one of the biggest advantages of having a mentor, especially during college, is the support and encouragement that they give you. Treat support like a gift–it’s incredibly precious–because as human beings, that’s a basic necessity. As college students, many of us are at the point where we’re unsure about the future, the steps to take, the path going forward. It’s when we’re overwhelmed by this sense of uncertainty that we need some form of support from others, and a mentor is a perfect source for this. They are there for you.

2. ADVICE

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Support and advice are closely related yet still a bit different. Supporting someone doesn’t necessarily mean giving them advice. Advice, on the other hand, has vital advantages of its own. Words of wisdom from your mentor can primarily provide you with a sense of reassurance. Whether it be on career choices, internships, school projects, time management, friend issues, chances are that your mentor has them covered because they’ve experienced similar obstacles. 

3. GROWTH

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Mentors are very valuable people who influence and augment your personal and professional growth. They push you to do your best, but at the same time, urge you to give yourself enough credit for your achievements. Your mentor will give you great feedback on both your successes and failures. Feedback is something that we don’t always get, but your mentor will give you honest suggestions to improve as a person as well as a professional. 

Even during my initial meeting with M., I definitely felt supported, got tons of insightful advice, and even grew a little as a result. Mentors like M. have your back on a range of issues and concerns. Most importantly, they’re rooting for YOU. I highly suggest forming relationships like this one at one point in your lives as it is incredibly advantageous. To connect with someone on this level is beautiful, and that relationship is everlasting. 

Read Much?

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Swamped with school work, club meetings, sports meets, social outings–the list goes on–it can be really hard to just sit down and relax. For those of you who are bookworms, do you find it sort of impossible to do what you love? Read? When’s the last time you’ve honestly opened up a glorious book that wasn’t for your courses? 

Speaking from my own experiences as a current junior, I can say that yes, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to read for relaxation, especially during the semester. However, it’s not impossible! In fact, I’m doing it right now. Even as the spring semester is kicking in hard as we enter our third week, I’m reading a couple of fiction books! (If you’re interested, I’m reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson; The Name of the Star also by Maureen Johnson, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.) How am I doing it? Well, do what you do best and read on to find out!

1. In Between 

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You might be surprised with how much time we can find in between classes, meetings, or particularly, when you’re just waiting. Don’t let the wait time for getting your Hidden Grounds Nutella Mocha go to waste: whip out your book and start reading! Considering you carry around a book at all times, like I do (don’t laugh at me). During these times, we may become aimless and restless, so what better way to quench our boredom than read?! The minutes add up, you know.

2. Before Sleeping

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Reading before you go to sleep can be quite a calming activity. It helps you de-stress from your hectic day. It may even help you sleep better! There are several scientific benefits of reading, actually. Find out more about them here. Don’t underestimate the reading you can get in before your eyes start to droop!

3. Keep Motivated

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You were so busy that you didn’t even have time to breathe? Well, guess what? You’re in luck. Why? Because you can attempt to read–even if it’s just a few paragraphs for just a few minutes–the next day, or the day after that! Don’t lose hope, fellow avid reader. I aim for at least fifteen minutes of reading per day, and I have to admit, that doesn’t sound like much time at all, but 1) Even that is a challenge but 2) It’s doable. Try to not set a goal to read for an amount of time that will be difficult to achieve. It’s all about setting goals that are attainable, anyway! And of course, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Rejoice in those precious moments you are able to feast your eyes on the intricate words of a story. Take pride in the fact that you read for even a minute while waiting for your coffee amidst your busy schedule. Remember, it’s not about finding time to read; it’s making it!

So, my fellow readers, carry around a book, stay calm, and READ!

3 Ways to be Creative

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Helllooooo folks! As we come back (to reality) from our Thanksgiving break, we may be at that point in the semester (or we were already there since Week 1?) when our brains have had enough. Need some me-time? Well, how about you relax and rejuvenate by engaging in fun, creative activities (and give Netflix a rest, maybe)? After all, November is International Creative Child and Adult Month! So here, you’ll find 3 cool ways to be CREATIVE! 

1: WRITE!!!

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As a Creative Writing minor and just someone who loves writing in general, I guess I’m just a little biased in suggesting that y’all should write if you’d like to be more creative. I’m talking about poems, creative essays (NOT Expos haha), short stories, flash fiction, fan-fiction. Maybe even venture into the realm of writing a NOVEL! It’s definitely not easy to write–or to be creative, to be honest. But I think as soon as you forget what others might think about your writing–the whole judgment thing–writing becomes easier. Journalling helps, too, for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Overall, writing is a cathartic activity that can undoubtedly help you cope with the stress that comes with college–or life!

2: Color!

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Stress-relieving coloring books are quite popular nowadays. Apart from having intricate and eye-catching templates, they also help you hyperfocus on the activity of coloring, allowing your brain and you some breathing space. This type of activity helps you enter a relaxed state of mind and asks you to creatively decorate a picture that is half-done. You’re the other half that completes it, which is something that tells your brain: “This is worthwhile!” Coloring in these books can hone your art skills, too! Ever want to be the next Picasso?

3: Start an Instagram Account!

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It is not uncommon for people around the world to use social media platforms, like Instagram, to showcase their creative talents. So, this is something you can take on to motivate yourself to channel your creativity! What is something your passionate about? Transform that passion into something that you can keep track of and market to the rest of the world. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to attain a certain goal. For example, several individuals out there create an Instagram account to solely track the progress of a project that they’re working on, like a novel. Each day or once a week–how ever many times they choose to post–they may upload quotes or scenes from their writing, or take pictures of objects and people that relate to their work. This is a self-esteem booster, as well as a way to share your talents and passions! Personally, I created an Instagram account–@4linespoetry–in which I can post poetry along with my own hand-drawn sketches or digital representations (using Adobe Illustrator) of the poem. Though it is challenging to manage the account with all of my other activities, it is still worth my time.

So, there you have it! Take risks, try something new! I promise that adding some extra creativity into your inexplicably busy college lives can ease the stress and worries! 

~Tanya B. 

Tips to Make Friends at RU

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Hm, I don’t really think there is a step-by-step guide–that effectively works–to make friends. That’s because making friends is a process. And processes sometimes mean taking steps back to go forward. Now, keeping that in mind, it must be somewhat difficult to make friends in a huge community like Rutgers. Classes constantly change, and so do dormitory arrangements, and if you’re a commuter, it might even seem impossible to find a friend. But it’s not! You can make a big place smaller–forming bonds with people–but you can’t make a small place bigger. So here are some tips to help you build meaningful friendships:

1: Talk!

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Yes, being a chattermouth may work to your advantage at Rutgers! In classes, especially if they’re in lecture halls, you may feel like you’re just another student in the crowd. Simply turning to a person near you and saying “Hi” can really make a difference! Now, I know that introducing yourself to a stranger may not be “simple” at all. But this is one of the first steps of the friend-making process: putting yourself out there. Introducing yourself signals to the other person that you’re willing to be open-minded. Chances are, the people around you are also scared and just looking for someone to chat with and connect to. In smaller classes, such as those that take place in classrooms, talking to someone may be just as intimidating. Something that has helped me make friends is contributing to small group discussions. When we’re done talking about the assigned topic/question, I try introducing a question of my own–“How is everybody doing today?” That gets the conversation started and soon enough, my group members and I are asking each other about where we’re from, what we’re studying, and other “getting-to-know-you” questions. Try it!

2: Make Plans

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So once you’ve established a connection with a new person, how do you go about sustaining it? One way is to pipe up and suggest that y’all do something together. Remember, this doesn’t have to be as lavish as heading to a fancy dinner place! In fact, try inviting them for a cup of coffee or to attend a campus event together. Even asking them if they’d like to study with you for that class is a great way to keep the relationship going. During whatever you guys choose to do, you’ll see that you almost automatically start conversing about several things, sharing details/experiences in your life—things like that. Ultimately, humans like to know that they’re not alone; therefore, we want to make connections and hope they last long. 

3: Keep in Contact

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Oftentimes, when semesters end, the friends you worked hard to make suddenly disappear. Now you guys don’t have classes together, don’t take the same bus routes, don’t live on the same dorm floor. Whatever the case may be, you still both have the ability to keep in touch. This is even more possible nowadays, with all the technology and social media that surround us. Make use of these tools! Once in a while, pop a text to your friend from last semester’s Literature class and ask how they’re doing. How are their new classes? How are their professors and the work load? Would they like to meet up? The last question may be a hard one to type out for some people. What if that friend doesn’t really want to hang out anymore? Of course, there are a lot of What If’s, but if you don’t try asking, how will you know the answer? Challenge yourself; give it a shot! 

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Undoubtedly, friends you might’ve been close to for years may grow apart, for a number of reasons. That’s something difficult to go through, but it’s not the end of the world. Friends come and go. There are so many people out there for you to befriend. I’m not saying finding new friends will replace the valuable relationship you might’ve had with someone, but it definitely will give you hope that you do have people who care about you. You just gotta find them!

–Tanya B.

3 Tips to Stay Organized

YASSSS! First week of the semester = DOWN. Okay, sooo…now what? Things seem a little crazy–new classes, new places, new faces. It’s understandable that you may be feeling in need of some organization. 

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YOU’RE IN LUCK….because here are 3 tips to get you started!

#1: GET A PLANNER

Feeling like your head’s about to explode from all the assignments you’re trying to remember? Before your brain goes KABOOM!, please give it a rest and actually write down all the things you have to keep in mind. Making lists is the first step in giving your mind a break. The next one is to organize (<–key word) the items in that list in an easy, eye-appealing, and effective manner, which should signal…DING, DING…planners!

Planners make it a lot easier to remember all of your homework, quizzes, exam dates, and club meetings and events–just pour all of those things from your mind to the pages of your savior. When picking out a planner, make sure it’s something you’ll like looking at. The appearance of the organizing item that you’ll use repeatedly makes a difference in how often you utilize it! If it’s something drab and boring, you might just rather feel like continuing to store assignment due dates in your mind.

And of course, if the planner doesn’t have effective organizing methods, why use it at all? When I selected my planner, I looked for the following: monthly calendars, daily calendars with enough space to jot down work, a fun and exciting interior and exterior, and yes….stickers 😉 . I was very lucky to have come across a planner from ban.do, which fulfilled all of my criteria! It’s a 17-month planner that’s incredibly useful and incredibly fun to use. I mean, it’s so creative and engaging that it has cute morale-boosters, funny suggestions on what to do for the weekends, countless empty “Notes” pages, stickers (of course), a large pocket for things you’d like to stash, eye-catching illustrations, and a whole secret code it uses throughout!

#2: Make A Schedule

We all need some form of structure in our lives. A great way to maintain that is by creating a schedule that outlines your classes, extracurricular activities, job/internship hours, homework, meals, time for yourself, and sleep. The last three are perhaps the most important parts of your schedule. When our college work hits or we’re studying for hours on end, it’s crucial that we remember to tell ourselves: I REQUIRE SUSTENANCE (Thor reference).

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Time for yourself is equally important–we all need time to relax, wind down, and enjoy, whether it be socially or individually. And of course…SLEEP. Folks, how are you going to refrain from feeling like a Walking Dead zombie if you don’t sleep at least eight hours a day? Use time management to ensure that you sleep enough, in addition to the other things on your schedule. Remember–your life isn’t set in stone. So keep your schedule flexible. Color code it, too!

#3: Plan Ahead

Planning ahead MAY stress out some students, but this can be as simple as planning out your day. It doesn’t have to be planning out your entire week. This method helps you keep track of all the things you may need to do and prevents you from forgetting something. Planning ahead can also mean aiming to finish assignments a day or two before their due dates, so that you have time to spare lest something else crops up. Don’t leave things for the last moment, including studying for exams. When you cram, you’ll tend to forget most of what you tried memorizing an hour (or less) before your exam. Pace yourself and study in chunks by planning ahead about when you’ll study what. Start with a simple To-Do List, but, uhm, have something on it to do, unlike Patrick.

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Start organizing!! 😀 

~ Tanya B.

RU Top 4 Eats

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I’m a commuter, and I’m hungry. ALL the time. And I spend most of my time (and money) at my top 4 favorite RU food destinations (when my lunchbox from home is empty, but my pockets aren’t). What are they? Read to find out, of course.

#4: Henry’s Diner ~ Livingston Plaza

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I honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted to place Henry’s at a tie with #3 (which shall remain unnamed for now). Apart from offering an aesthetic atmosphere, Henry’s also provides what seems like an unlimited amount of meals to choose from on the menu (that’s designed to look and feel like a newspaper, by the way!). You want eggs? Well, there’ll probably be more than twenty ways to have them. You want chicken? Prepare yourself to choose from a variety of chicken dish combinations. Orrrr, do you want to have pasta? Then you can Build Your Own Pasta Bowl!! What I’m saying here is that there’s a lot you can choose from when it comes to Henry’s. And the food itself? It won’t let you down. I usually have Chicken Marsala or Chicken Parm, which comes with a side of veggies and your choice of starch–rice or pasta. And the pasta bowls are so creamy and definitely exceed expectations. These dishes are super delish and extremely filling. Last time, my friend and I left with a food coma because there was so much “GOOD” to eat. Alas, Henry’s falls on the expensive spectrum for us college students, but hey, if you want a nice lunch out once in a while, this is the place to go!

#3: Moe’s ~ Busch Campus Center

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Moe’s: my go-to place to eat with my best friend! After a long lecture, this is the food we choose to dig in to cool off and rejuvenate. It’s quite healthy–a salad-like bowl that you build, with free tortilla chips and salsa in your bag (that’s designed like Mad Libs, by the way!) It’s a lot like Chipotle, so if you’re looking for something similar without taking the A or H bus to College Ave, then this is for you!

#2: Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant ~ College Ave; Easton

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Ever wonder what Middle Eastern food tastes like? After going to Mamoun’s, you will definitely know. Mamoun’s offers authentic Middle Eastern dishes, along with some beautiful Middle Eastern music! The chicken kebob sandwich is. AMAZING. That’s what I have every single time I go there, because I truly can never get enough of it. It’s  marinated cubes of juicy chicken with lettuce and tomatoes stuffed inside soft, fluffy pita bread. Tahini sauce, made from tahini paste (crushed sesame seeds), lemon juice, garlic, and water, is generously added inside this sandwich. I always ask for feta cheese in that sandwich as well, because why not? (Remember, folks, there is never “too much cheese” in this world.) Aaaand, of course, Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant proffers the best and real falafel on the East Coast. Falafel, or deep-fried balls of finely ground chickpeas, onions, parsley, garlic, and spices, also comes in a sandwich option at Mamoun’s. Try this restaurant–you won’t be disappointed!

#1: Hidden Grounds ~ College Ave; Easton

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This, my friends, is only one of the many pictures of my coffee from Hidden Grounds. Not only does this fantastic coffee shop have stunning latte art, but it also has one of the best coffee concoctions ever. EVER. That up there is a cup of Nutella Mocha–coffee, but with the perfect amount of chocolate sweetness drizzled in. Every cup I have at Hidden Grounds is steamed, stirred, and served with actual perfection. The atmosphere of this place will make you want to whip out your notebook and just start scribbling away. The suave wooden surfaces of the tables, chairs, stools, and counters are simple, but just so soothing, and they also make an ideal setting for a date. 😉 There’s also food available here, from the Bombay Sandwich to Vegan Cookie Brittle! I just adore Hidden Grounds, and it’s my favorite place at Rutgers, not to mention on Earth.

Hope y’all visit these excellent places for a bite–or drink–at one point!

How to NOT Get Bored Over the Summer

It has been just a little more than a week since Summer 2017 started, and chances are, you’re already starting to feel slightly bored. “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THIS FREE TIME? UGHHH!” might be something that’s going through yoor mind (or maybe not, but whatever, read this anyway). “OH PLEASE, SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM MY BOREDOM!!”

WELL, you’ve come to the right place to prevent yourself from staring at a wall all day, and maybe even becoming a wall. Here are some steps to take to NOT get bored over this summer:

Set Goals for Yourself!

Y’all ever finish finals and say to yourself, “Man, I really deserve this three-month break from life!” And then after the first week, “Man, I really am not doing anything in my life right now,” until it gets to, “Man, I’ve literally been like Patrick under his rock all summer.” Folks, you do NOT want to feel like Patrick by the time September rolls around (sadness). To combat that, you need to come up with goals that you’d like to work on over these three months. Personally, I’ve come up with around nine goals for the summer. But goal-setting doesn’t end there. Nope. Next, you must plan HOW you want to go about achieving those goals. This means coming up with sub-goals, schedules, dates and times, and even deadlines. Yes, I know, this sounds tedious, but trust me, it’s the only way to actually be productive. Once you give yourself a timeline or schedule to work with, you’ll feel motivated to go ahead and stick to it as you will feel driven to fulfill that goal. And then, when September does roll around (sadness), you’ll feel proud of yourself for achieving your goals, regardless of how many you set up for yourself!

So…What Goals?

You might be thinking, “I have no life; therefore, I have no goals.” Guess what, Descartes will tell you otherwise: “I think, therefore I am.” YOU think, therefore you ARE, and therefore, you are also very capable of setting goals for yourself. These can be small goals and do not have to be numerous: you can even set just one or two goals for yourself. Or, they can be long-term goals that you want to begin working on over the summer and can be nine (like mine) or ten or more! The amount and type does not really matter, as long as you think you can handle what you are planning for. For example, one of my goals for Summer 2017 is to write. I’ve come up with sub-goals: What do I want to write? Next, I’ve scheduled time for these writing projects. Finally, I’m in the process of rationalizing just how many of these projects I would ideally like to complete by September. For instance, if we’re talking about the fantasy fiction novel I want to write, then I’m allotting six hours per week towards that and aiming to finish 10-14 chapters of it!

JUST DO IT!

Listen to the words of Shia: JUST DO IT! Why would you not do the goals, which should be meaningful and purposeful, that you’ve planned to do? Aim for better. Strive for the stars. But most importantly, feel proud of yourself, and use the above GIF of Shia as motivation!

So set some goals for yourself; plan them out; and start working on them for a better, not boring, and productive Summer 2017! 🙂 

Being a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program

JUST DO IT.

This year was my first time as a Peer Mentor, through SASHP, for a first-year student, who I was paired up with based on similar academic studies and interests. We first met each other at the Peer Mentor/Mentee Summer Kick-Off event last June, which was really just the very beginning of our adventure together. As a Peer Mentor, I received the opportunity to guide my mentee through her first year here at Rutgers, helping her adjust to the transition from high school to a large university and to the many changes. We met at least once a month, and soon enough, we were friends! Here are my top three moments with my mentee, who we’ll call Melodia for this post:

3. The Awkward First Meeting

It’s always super awkward when you meet someone for the first time, isn’t it? Same case for when I had my first, official meeting of the year with Melodia! We met at Busch Campus Center, and even our initial greeting was awkward:

“Hiii!”

“Hiii!”

We walked to some couches in silence and then marched towards Moe’s to get Melodia some food. After we overcame the initial awkwardness, we proceeded to Phase 2: More Awkwardness. Most of this phase consisted of silence…awkward silence, during which we smiled at each other while carefully chewing on food. Phase 3: Some Conversation, began when we both realized that “people usually talk”; therefore, we…TALKED. We conversed about the first week of classes, our already busy schedules, the different classes we were registered for, and how we were liking them and our professors. It was clear that Melodia was sharp, excellent at time management, and adjusting well to the Rutgers environment. Our meeting ended with, “See you soon!” Overall, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be–not too much blood, sweat, or tears at all! Folks, here’s a lesson I learned from this first meeting: AWKWARD is NORMAL.

2. Session of Connection

For probably our second or third meeting, we decided to talk with each other at the new Starbucks at the Yard across from Scott Hall. This, my friends, was when we truly CONNECTED. By this time, the awkwardness had vanished, and we were already talking to each other with ease. That day, we were discussing how Melodia’s classes were coming along and any challenges she was facing. Somehow, we switched to the wonderful world of art and passionately lectured each other on literature, films, and creativity. Interesting lectures from both sides, I must say. Melodia exclaimed, “We have so much in common!” To that, I responded, “Can you believe that a whole hour has passed by?!” After some more chatting, I finished sipping my cappuccino (with three sugars) and we said, “See you soon!” I made my way to the train station, thinking to myself how awesome the day turned out to be. 

1. Never Say Goodbye

All stories come to an end. All things have an end. But still, “Never Say Goodbye,” as a Hayley Westenra (one of my most favorite singers in this world) song title indicates. Although that song describes a romantic relationship, I can say that it applies to friendships as well. Just last week, I had my last, official meeting with Melodia, this time in three places–we were moving around a lot–including the Livingston Student Center, the Livingston Starbucks, and Sixteen Handles. I congratulated her on finishing an entire year at Rutgers. Freshman year: done. In this meeting, we talked about how Melodia had grown and changed for the better. I told her how I was proud of her for beginning to overcome her fear of sharing her work with others, specifically in a Creative Writing class workshop, during which she bravely listened to her classmates’ critiques and constructive feedback. I also congratulated her on something else…

SHE GOT ACCEPTED TO BE A PEER MENTOR FOR THE HONORS PROGRAM FOR NEXT YEAR!

I was thrilled and so very proud that she chose to apply. It warmed my heart when she said she gave it a shot because I was an inspiration for her, and that she also wanted to help an incoming first-year just as I had helped her. After about an hour, before I hurried off to Tillett to tutor and Melodia crossed the street to the Plaza bus stop, we, of course, agreed to definitely meet up throughout next year, because the end of my official role as a mentor for Melodia didn’t mean the end of my friendship with her. We told each other, “See you soon!”

So folks, if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, choosing to be an Honors Peer Mentor is absolutely the way to go!

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–The Doctor