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! 

***

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.

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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

 

When You’re Bored

Who lives to breathe with no activity? AYE, AYE, CAPTAIN!

This spring break, I am Spongebob: singing “indoors” without the enthusiasm that our favorite yellow sponge has when he belts it.

Stella the Winter Storm, why did you have to ruin my plans of holding a get together/party before my birthday? That’s what I’m repeating like a mantra as I write this post, wishing very much that I were with friends right now, not that I’m not having a lot of fun writing this. 😉 But come on, I was so excited! Now I’m stuck indoors, sitting with an Abe coin, a Lays sour cream and onion chip, and a sad-looking piece of tissue paper. (Not really.)

But hey, all you people, there’s still a lot to do when you’re inside, and instead of wishing you could celebrate your birthday with your friends, you could do any or all of the following:

Idea #1: PLAN A DIFFERENT WAY TO CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY OR HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS

I’m very lucky and grateful that I have so many caring friends. My best friend, alias Krabby Patty, or Patty for short, is calling me over for a sleepover instead! She realizes my pain and empathizes with my frustration over Mother Nature. We’ve planned to bake cake, cupcakes (NUTELLA STUFFED ONES), and cookies; watch films (I’m trying to persuade her to watch Imitation Game together, even though I’ve watched it at least five times…I’ve lost count); engage in conversations (so many people now forget that that’s a source of entertainment, besides technology); and sleep (barely). The morning when we wake up will be my birthday! Patty has already caused me to cry tears of gratitude when she proposed that we make pancakes in the morning. I simply love Krabby Patty, and I can’t wait to have the evening, night, and morning of my life with her!

Idea #2: DO YOUR HOMEWORK, FOR PETE’S SAKE!

I actually don’t know who Pete is, sorry, but I do know that I have an avalanche load of homework. I wish I were a witch and could make my stress, homework, problems, homework, grades, and more homework disappear with a simple, Evanesco! spell, but unfortunately, I haven’t gone to Hogwarts. Yet. I am a mere Muggle who looks like the flattering picture of Squidward (above) when I finish my 20-pg single-spaced research paper at 5 a.m. (true story). THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD START all the other assignments you may have for this week, so that on the last day of break, you can just enjoy it and not worry about looking like Squidward.

Idea #3: Write!

My Creative Writing Fiction professor believes that writer’s block is a bunch of blarney. “Why isn’t there anything called a doctor’s block or a lawyer’s block?!” he said to me once. So I’m going to use being snowed in to my advantage: I’m going to start writing poetry and short stories! In a perfect world, I’d be writing a little every day, but it’s hard to make time and to manage my time effectively. But here’s a tip for you writers out there: If you’re finding it difficult to sit down and write every day, then just set out FIFTEEN minutes of your time, and start that pen/pencil/keyboard/typewriter going! Warning: Don’t be surprised if you only come up with an extravagantly decorated “THE”.

So, all of the residents of Bikini Bottom–I MEANT RUTGERS–it’s okay if you’re stuck inside seemingly with nothing to do, because there’s always something to do! Of course, there’s a lot more than the above three ideas, but hope those three get the creative juices flowing! 🙂