The End of Undergrad (Class of 2015)

Hello, readers! Today I write to you on this blog as a Rutgers ALUMNA. It’s so weird that I have to refer to myself as that from now on, almost as weird as having to consider myself as an “adult.” (I wish I could sugarcoat this for you but as a 22-year old, I’m still waiting for the adulthood vibes to come on, and I’m not sure when they are supposed to.)

As some of you may know, Rutgers commencement was just about a week ago. Since the university is comprised of several schools, each one has its own event in addition to the university-wide celebration that everyone is welcome to attend. The latter one is the event with the keynote speaker, etc. This year was pretty neat since our speaker was none other than Bill Nye! In addition to his climate advocacy work today, he’s also such an icon from our generation’s childhood, so I thought that was a nice way for things to come full-circle. I personally enjoyed his message, but you can still watch the speech for yourself if you weren’t present last Sunday. (FYI the embedded video is not mine.)

Last Sunday was special for another reason – it was the first time the School of Arts and Sciences held its own convocation event, rather than having individual departments host their own at different locations. Since I was graduating from SAS, you could say that Sunday’s itinerary was pretty long for me, mostly consisting of sitting and waiting around in the stadium, but now that it’s passed it really felt like no time at all. That’s the thing about college – you work really hard up until the very end of the semester, and then there’s not much time for it to sink in before you’re home for the summer.

But before I talk too much, here’s some proof that I was actually there:

Walking out from under the stadium!

Walking out from under the stadium!

Every school gets a fun prop to wave around; SAS students had their own small flags.

Every school gets a fun prop to wave around; SAS students had their own small flags.

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Friends! (Photo credit to my dad for the first one.)

Friends! (Photo credit to my dad for the first one.)

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One of the best parts was sitting behind these guys. I can't believe they made the commitment to carry those under their gowns.

One of the best parts was sitting behind these guys. I can’t believe they made the commitment to carry those under their gowns.

And so marked the end of my Rutgers journey. I’m not really one to say cheesy/sentimental messages when it comes to endings like this, but (if you haven’t already graduated), as a senior you’ll definitely hear them enough.

Ice cream cake. Yes, it had the cookie crumbs in the middle.

Ice cream cake. Yes, it had the cookie crumbs in the middle.

Lastly, I suppose I should at least share what I’ll be up to post-undergrad: I have a full-time job! At a software company in the Midwest. I won’t go into the details here, but if you’re a Rutgers student who’d like to know more OR has something you’d like to share with me about Madison, Wisconsin, feel free to contact me. (Email in the bios section.)

Madison, WI isn't ready for me

Madison, WI isn’t ready for me.

To my graduating seniors: We did it!

To other undergrads out there: You can make it! But treasure your time, it really does fly by. The undergrad years are such a unique period in life, and that’s something I didn’t fully understand until I realized they were over.

And to my readers: Thanks for following along, though I’ve only had a little to share so far. Hopefully I’ll be back here some time to talk a bit about the “real world” with you all. Ha.

Happy Summer! Stay tuned for the rest of our awesome new bloggers!

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How to Take Care of Study Stress

Spring break is just around the corner, everyone! Exciting, but before reaching the Week of Freedom/Catching Up on Work You Haven’t Done, most of us are probably preparing to leap over the last hurdle: Midterm exams.

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For some of you, you may even already be on your second or third exam. I am so, so sorry.

During this part of the semester, it’s easy to feel really overwhelmed. You might find yourself doing work at many strange hours of the day, consuming unnaturally colored drinks, telling yourself, “YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING!!”

However, as your caring friend, I am here to tell you that you do not need to do this! In my experience, stressing out never actually increased my productivity and made me tired.

So if you’re ever feeling like you’re going crazy or you’re up late burnin’ the midnight oil, here are some tricks that have personally helped me get through this difficult time:

Take breaks! If you’re studying for hours, I’ve found that it helps to take breaks periodically to help bring me back down to Earth and refocus my thoughts. I’ll try not to get into endless clicking of links, but maybe listen to music, talk to friends, get a snack, etc.

Relax the mind! Brainstorming or trying to memorize something can be overwhelming, so sometimes doing something relaxing can help your brain settle down. I find things that don’t require too much thought to be really helpful, for example

If you’re interested in long-term care for your mind, you might also want to try meditation! I started with this free app (for Apple), which provides quick, guided meditations that also come with soothing nature sounds.

Re-energize! Grab a good snack! Something that’s healthy and energizing, like nuts (supposedly, I am most definitely not a health expert), or maybe just something you can indulge in for a little (I am a lot better at this option). Another option is turning up a bit of music, as long as you’re not disturbing your roommates, and dancing/jumping around. Sounds silly but it can be really helpful!

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Dance like Ringo.

Lastly, Eat well and sleep well! I probably sound like your mother but I am so serious about this one. There seems to be notion among college students that eating poorly and sleeping at weird times is an accepted part of the culture. Of course there’s nothing wrong with taking naps and indulging in some good food–it’s the developing of destructive habits that’s not so healthy. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep and food at regular times is crucial for your health and really pays off, so that when the next study cram session comes around you’ll feel ready for it!

Sorry for bringing this back.

Sorry for bringing this back.

Beginning of The End

…Alright, so maybe the title is a bit dramatic.

I am a senior. And this is my final semester. Wow. When people told the Freshman Me that these four years would fly by, they really weren’t lying!

The semester’s still just beginning, though, so I’ll save the wrap-up thoughts for a few months down the road. Let’s talk about how productive I was during winter break instead! Ha!

What to do for the final winter break of one’s undergraduate career? I thought it would be a last hurrah of sorts, but as it always does, real life stepped in. I found myself freaking out about my future.

But fear not, my peers! Although life after college can sometimes sound intimidating and limiting, there are actually plenty of options for us soon-to-be-graduates. Besides the usual job-hunting, I also got myself to apply to a handful of fellowships, which are an option that all students should at least check out once. Some are geared towards funding graduate school programs, if that’s your post-graduation plan, but many also offer programs for underclassman! It’s especially useful to look into if you’re interested in studying abroad at some point. Rutgers actually has its own Office of Distinguished Fellowships–if you haven’t explored this route yet, definitely go to their website, where you can quickly browse programs by year or type.

Of course, there are a bunch of other programs students might want to think about, such as Teach for America, CityYear, or the Peace Corps. Fun fact: The Honors Program sometimes hosts representatives of these kinds of opportunities through Tea with the Dean, so be sure to keep up to date with Honors events each week. (Teach for America paid a visit this past fall!)

Thankfully, my winter break didn’t consist entirely of staring at cover letters and application essays; that would just be sad. I also took a mini kind-of-road-trip with my family, starting in Las Vegas and ending in San Francisco, only my second time ever visiting the west coast. We didn’t get to spend much time in each place, but the landscapes there are so astounding, it’s honestly hard to find words to describe any of it. Sometimes it felt like we were on another planet.

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Where am I?

Is this Nevada...OR MARS?

Is this Nevada…OR MARS?

The most impressive place we stopped at, though, was Zion National Park in Utah. We only had a couple of hours to drive around, but getting to see those canyons was absolutely subliminal (haven’t been to the Grand ones down in Arizona yet; no spoilers please).

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Not pictured: ~20 other people snapping pics and staring in awe.

I think it was quite a symbolic way to start the beginning of my last semester, traveling for the first time through places that still very much felt like America’s frontier. As the future draws near, it’s making me realize there’s still much about life that I have yet to explore.