Summer Series Part Two: Knitting!!!

Hello everyone! Summer has officially kick-started, although it is currently raining outside. I thought I would continue my summer series posts to update you on what I will be doing this summer. I am really ecstatic to tell you that, this summer, I will be learning knitting!

Why knitting? Well, my mom has always been a knitter and I had a ball of purple yarn and a pair of dark green knitting needles laying around, so I thought, hey, let me give it a shot! So, here I am knitting. I should tell you that it is quite addicting once you get the hang of it. I started off checking out some beginner level instructional books from my local library. Unfortunately, I personally found it a bit difficult to comprehend whether the needle goes under the yarn or over from merely looking at the diagrams. One thing that I did glean from these instructional books was ideas on patterns. Then, I turned to YouTube videos. The videos were much easier to follow. My favorite videos are from Knitting Stitch Patterns. These videos have step-by-step, detailed instructions that are quite helpful.

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Before we get into some patterns, I would like to share with you the basics. Any pattern that you will ever do will always comprise of knit stitches and purl stitches. The difference between these two is a matter of whether the needle goes under or over the yarn. Knit stitches look like braids and purl stitches look like beads (see image above). If you master knit and purl stitches, then you are set for doing any pattern; the patterns are merely omnifarious combinations of these two stitches.

Before starting the pattern right away, my mom taught me that laying a strong and neat foundation is key. Thus, consecrate at least one row to laying out the foundation. The term for knitting the foundation and putting the yarn onto the needle is called “casting on,” which is often abbreviated as CO.  Before casting on, you need to do a slip knot (this will technically be your first stitch), then you can start casting on more stitches along your needle. 

Each pattern has a specific number of stitches that need to be cast on and this information will often be mentioned right in the beginning. The foundation is considered Row 1. Knitting patterns are often addressed according to specific rows. Often, instructions will be abbreviated. For example, Row 2: K2 * P2, K1. Translated, the preceding statement would be interpreted as the following: in row 2, do two knit stitches, then do two purl stitches and one knit stitch, and then repeat (*) the two purl stitches and one knit stitch till the end of the row.  Some other examples of key abbreviations are listed.

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Now, let us get to the fun part: patterns! When knitting patterns, there are two sides: the wrong side and the right side. You can think of it as a shirt having a right side (the one shown on the outside) and a wrong side (the unseen side). Often, you would want to display the pattern on the right side. Some patterns that I have done so far include Moss stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, seed stitch, bamboo stitch, basket-weave stitch, and teardrop stitch. You can see seed stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, and bamboo stitch examples, respectively, below!

Well, I hope you saw how cool knitting can be. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! Enjoy the rest of your summers!

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Don’t Be Afraid To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in college is to push my boundaries and explore new opportunities. After all, college is the perfect time to discover yourself! While my first semester, I was more reserved and hesitant to try new things, I decided to make a change for my spring semester. Here are a few ways I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone:

1. Try new classes

Throughout high school, I generally tended to stay away from history and literature classes because I was not a fan of the humanities. I was much better and interested in math and science, so I filled up my schedule with mostly STEM-related classes. Coming into college, I was set on taking classes related to my neuroscience major and pre-med. The thought of having a schedule only filled with classes I wanted was so exciting.

Only biology and genetics and no Spanish and Language Arts and history?!?! 

It was like a dream come true. Only I soon realized it wasn’t the best thing in the world. I missed the balance of STEM and humanities classes that I’d always had in high school and my schedule felt empty. So, I decided to explore outside my interests and take a history class, culture class, and several other humanities courses. And, I’m so glad that I did. I think it’s fantastic that Rutgers and most colleges have core requirements that make you take a few courses in all subject areas. Otherwise, we’d all just stick to our majors and miss the point of a liberal arts education.

While I still am not a fan of the humanities, I really appreciate the skills I got to take away from the courses I enrolled in. It’s a nice break from the analytical and abstract science classes I take. It has given me critical thinking skills and helped me form informed perspectives on current political and world issues.

2. Join new clubs.

In high school, I wasn’t much of an “extracurricular” person. Sure, I’d participated in a few clubs, but academics was always my main priority. I wanted to change that in college. The college admission process really opened my eyes because I realized that anyone can have a 4.0 GPA and a 1600 on the SAT. What really matters are your extracurriculars and your unique experiences that set you apart from the rest.

I was excited to get involved on campus, but as a commuter, I wasn’t quite sure how to. I didn’t know if I had the time commitment, I didn’t know if I would be able to socialize well, and I didn’t know if I had the guts to join clubs that I had no prior experience in. After a complete year in college, I can honestly say that all of that is irrelevant as long as you are willing to try something new.

One by one, I started looking up organizations online, reaching out to clubs, and joining organizations. Something that I’d always wanted to do was write and have people actually read my writing, but I was scared to put myself out there. But I finally decided to let go of that fear and I joined two blogs my freshman year. The experience has been so rewarding.  I also joined the Rutgers Commuter Student Association and it was the best decision I made so far! It’s given me a sense of community and family in a big school like Rutgers.

3. Look for leadership opportunities.

College is a great place to get a feel for the real world. There are so many opportunities available to help you gather all the skills you need to succeed, so don’t be afraid to take them!

This past semester, I would always see opportunities to become part of the E-Board for student organizations. At first, I’d think to myself: “This would look great on my resume!” But then I’d back down because I’d think I didn’t have enough experience or ability to apply for such positions. If there is anything I’ve learned so far, it is that you never know what will and can happen.

As Nike would say, JUST DO IT! Even if you don’t get the position, it’s still a great experience applying and interviewing. It refines your writing and public speaking skills.  Even though I didn’t get the first few positions I had applied for, I wasn’t disappointed. I just kept going. Soon enough, opportunities started lining up, and I found myself with five leadership positions just my first year here!

4. Make new friends.

This one is a little personal for me and not everyone might be able to relate. As an introvert and a commuter, I have a hard time making and maintaining new friends on campus. During my first semester, I found myself alone a lot of the time and relying on my high school friends. I came very close to accepting the fact that I’d be alone all of college and have no luck with friends.

But, then something changed. I decided I didn’t want to have that mentality anymore. I wasn’t having any luck because I wasn’t trying at all to meet new people. I had to remember that everyone in some way was struggling and lonely. I had to put myself out there. As soon as I started feeling positive and put a smile on, good things started happening. I started talking to more people, hanging out, going to more events, and letting go of only sticking to my high school friends.

Even though college doesn’t really allow for having constant friends, it’s still great for enjoying the moment with those that are around you and having good conversations. The more I joined clubs and got involved, the more people I got to know.

Freshman year was just the beginning. It was the first step outside my comfort zone in a long flight of stairs of unexplored terrains. I’m so excited about my next three years here at Rutgers and I’m eagerly anticipating what the future holds. College can be the best four years of your life if you are open to letting yourself loose!

The Time I Spilled Water on My Laptop…

At the end of April, I spilled water on my laptop. 😱 Of course, my computer powered down a few seconds later, and I spent the next hour frantically googling “what to do if I spill water on my laptop” and panicking as I asked friends “what do I do if I spill water on my laptop?!”.

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Panicking

There was the suggestion of using rice to dry the computer (which worked), and using a fan to dry the computer (which also worked)— tips for those unfortunate enough to also spill liquids on their technology. For the next couple of days, however, I could only hope I would be able to recover my files and photos, which I, being the procrastinator that I am, had not backed up. (yikes!) And because I planned to submit my thesis that week, I needed my laptop to recover so I could retrieve my most recent draft.

While that week was stressful, going to the computer lab every time I needed to use Word and Powerpoint helped me realized several things about my relationship with the Internet and technology.

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Basically me, except I can’t whistle and had a lot more stress 👍

First, I learned to value having a fully functioning laptop. Before this, I never realized how convenient it was to be able to study and work anywhere I wanted. While I did have my phone for email, social media, and the Internet, which I am extremely thankful for, I couldn’t take notes on Powerpoint, write assignments in Word, or study as easily as when I had my laptop. And because I prefer looking at a computer rather my phone, I had to walk to the computer lab every time I wanted to work on my assignments.

At the same time, however, I also realized how much more productive I was when I didn’t have my laptop. Maybe walking to the computer lab gave me a sense of purpose, or maybe I wasn’t as distracted by the tabs I usually keep open, but every time I logged in I was focused and ready to work. Perhaps part of this was because I valued the time I had inside the computer lab more than when I had my laptop.

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Me in class

In addition, I also began to pay more attention in my classes. Whereas previously, I diverted my attention from listening to read and highlight the lecture slides, I began to put all my attention towards listening without my laptop or any printouts. I was surprised at how much better I understood the material when I stopped myself from looking ahead or from taking too many notes.

While my laptop has recovered (thank goodness), the experience forced me to acknowledge how much time I spend on the computer and to curb the gut reaction to use my laptop just to find something to look at. During that week, I became more efficient at getting work done and discovered how easily I could get distracted in class. I learned the importance of backing up all my files, and to not keep water bottles open near my laptop. This incident reminded me to appreciate what I have, to learn from my mistakes, and ultimately to re-evaluate how I use technology. What is your relationship with technology like?

A Lesson from Thor: Ragnarok

By the time this post is up, the release of Avengers’s Infinity War will be only a day away!

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Over the past few months I have been re-watching the Marvel movies in anticipation for the new Avengers, and one of my top favorite movies is Thor: Raganarok. I felt a connection to this movie not only because it was hilarious, but because I felt like I could relate to one of the central themes of the movie. I’m sure most of you have already watched this movie, but in case you haven’t, I will be discussing spoilers 🙂

In this movie, Thor lost his hammer, his hair, and his eye.  These were all physical things that he thought made him the powerful person he is (well, the eye is an extreme example, but you get the idea). He thought that without his hammer, he would have less strength and be less capable of doing what he was able to do with it. He initially felt lost without his hammer, as if a part of his identity was gone with it. At some point in the movie, while Thor is doubting his abilities sans hammer, Odin asks him “Are you the god of hammers?” It was at that moment that he really realized that the hammer is just an object. It does not solely give him strength or unique abilities, as he has power within him. And he is able to do incredible things even without the hammer!

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This is what raw power looks like.

We all go through rough patches in life. Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we are disadvantaged or as if we are deprived, and are consequentially farther from reaching our goals. It is normal to feel less capable when we do not have the same resources as someone else has. But inside, we have the power to shape who we want to be. When we are placed into a tough situation, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects and on what is keeping us from moving forward, we should instead look at the positives. We all have the power to change a situation from bad to good, and half of that battle is our attitude toward the problem.

I think that this is important to remember as we approach finals well. I have noticed a lot of negativity swirling around in my classes (and I regret to admit that I also contribute to that cloud of sadness). We should all keep in mind that no matter lost we may feel, how many assignments may be piling up, or how many tests may be approaching, we do have some level of control over our outcomes. Instead of focusing our energy on negative things like how many days we have left before exams, or how many more topics we have to cover, its more worthwhile to find ways to boost our self-esteem and get things done. I realize that this is a stretch from the Thor lesson, but I believe that we all have strength within us. Negativity is like Thor’s hammer in the sense that it keeps us from recognizing our true potential. I feel like my thoughts were a little disorganized, but I really do think that Thor taught us a great lesson about taking advantage of our inner power!

 

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!

5 Super Simple Changes You Can Make To Get You 5 Steps Closer To That Summer Body

Now that allergy season is coming up, it’s time to address the one thing everyone seems to be allergic to…the gym! If you want those fire Instagram pics but don’t really like going to the gym, or don’t have the time to go with your part-time job, 19 credits, and a multitude of extracurriculars, here are five simple things you can do that’ll slowly but surely pay off in the long run.

Take the stairs.

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This might seem like an obvious one, but with Rutgers’ architecture, chances are that even if you live on the first floor of your dorm, all your classes probably are not on the first floor. In that case, take the stairs! Using the stairs can help tone your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. And most importantly, you can avoid that giant group of people crowding the elevator.

Get off one bus stop earlier.

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Now that the weather is getting a little warmer (unless there’s another random snow day…who knows at this point?!) It can help to get off one or two bus stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. It’s a great way of adding a little exercise into your commute to class and avoiding some mild claustrophobia on the bus.

Carry around healthy snacks

This one probably requires the most self-control, as every student’s weakness is the dreaded vending machine. You end up caving and getting those sugar-filled Poptarts at absurdly high prices when you know one Costco run could’ve resolved all your problems. A healthy alternative is to carry around a healthy snack like a granola bar, or some yogurt in your backpack or purse so that the next time you’re hungry, you can save some calories and money!

Take a class. They’re free!

If you don’t like going to the gym, you are not alone. But there are plenty of other ways you can get in some activity as Rutgers offers free classes at all of the gyms on campus! Here you can do yoga, pilates, or BodyPump. It is usually only an hour long and available on every campus at many different times. So find a class and time that works for you, bring some friends with you, and start moving!

Drink LOTS of water

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This one is the easiest ones to do but for some reason is the one that most college kids struggle with. Dehydration has become a norm for so many college kids despite the abundance of water filters on campus. Make sure to always carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it when you get the chance. Drinking water not only is essential to fitness, but it also improves your skin, and keeps you more awake and alert!

Go ahead and make these simple changes in your life today! You’ll easily see the payoff in time for that summer vacation you’ve had planned.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Hi everyone! Spring has officially begun which means that Mother’s Day is almost here. I thought I would put together a list of four gifts that you can make or buy. They all leave room for a lot of creativity and personalization. Don’t worry! The DIY’s and the things you can buy will not be too expensive (unless you want them to be). Also, feel free to include more than one item from the list below; the more the merrier your mother will be! Hope you like this post and feel free to tell me your creative ideas because I am looking to get my mom something too!

  1. Cards

Image result for flower pop up cardHomemade Mother's Day Card Ideas | DIY Mother's Day GiftsImage result for mother's day cards

This can be a handmade card or something you buy from a store. I personally greatly enjoy making my own cards. Let me help you brainstorm some ideas for the cards. What I usually do is come up with a list of at least 3-4 things that my mom really likes that I could include as a component of the card. I encourage you to brainstorm these things even if you decide to buy the card. It will add a personalized touch that I am sure your mom will admire. So, let us get back to the brainstorming: favorite color(s), hobbies, movies, songs, food, season, place to visit, and more. Once you’re done brainstorming, try to construct or buy a card that includes at least 2 or more of these elements.

2.  Flowers in a Classy Vase

Image result for tissue paper flowersImage result for flowers in a vaseMason Jar Picture Frame Vase.

Now you can either make a tissue paper flower bouquet or buy beautiful, fresh flowers. As for the vase, if you wish to create your own vase or buy a classy vase, then see if you can still incorporate those things from your list you created in #1. If you want to make your own vase, then go to Walmart or Michaels and see if you can get a plain white or any other plain solid color vase upon which you could decorate and personalize! Pinterest suggests the far right one! If you are buying a vase, then try stores like Home Goods.

3. Handmade Jewelry

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This is exclusively a DIY project because I think it would be really thoughtful and creative to do this! Michaels has an amazing assortment of beads, jewels, and everything else you need to make your own jewelry, so do check it out! Some motifs that you can certainly use can, again, come from your brainstormed list! Other elements or themes that you can implement are flowers, geometric patterns, stars/planets theme, seashells or rocks you have collected, pressed plants, etc…

4. DIY Sign Decor

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This is another DIY that your mom will surely love! Try to find a canvas or some sort of board (wooden, cardboard, or metal) that you can do this on! You have two options for this gift. You can either spell out the word “Mother” or “Mom” and make each letter signify an adjective describing your mother. The other option is even better; you can personalize it further by spelling out your mom’s actual name! Your call! Have fun with it and decorate the board or canvas as you please.

Thank you! Have fun!

To My High School Seniors, It’s OK To Not Go To An Ivy League

Throughout high school and the majority of middle school, my dream was to go to Harvard. Without a doubt, I was naive and overconfident about my abilities, and upon entering a competitive school district for high school, I realized that my chances of getting in were slim. I always thought I was destined for Harvard or any Ivy League, for that matter. But today, after completing my first semester at Rutgers University, I can confidently say that I made the right choice.

When I received rejection upon rejection during the college application season, I came to the conclusion that I’d end up attending my state school. I would say things like “I’d rather be at the top of an average school than the bottom of a top school” and “the college you go to doesn’t really matter for undergrad” and “it’s not worth the money; I’d rather spend it on graduate school” to justify my choice.

Truth be told, I was just trying to make myself feel better and hide my shame of not making an Ivy League. College decisions are totally unpredictable, but that’s a whole other topic entirely and I do not wish to digress.

The point is, there are many factors that determine which college is the perfect fit for you. After just a semester, I can honestly say that it really does not matter what college I or any of my other high school friends are going to.

It’s about what you make of your experience at college.

We’ve all heard that statement before, haven’t we? And it’s not very convincing or uplifting, especially when you are a high school senior caught up in seeing other classmates posting their acceptances on Facebook. It’s hard, I get it. There are some things I wish people had told me to help me get through it all. So, here are some things to consider before having your heart set on an elite school solely for the sake of its reputation.

1. Grade inflation.

Grade inflation is the practice of giving higher grades for work that deserves something lower. People justify its use by arguing that inflated grades are necessary for students to succeed in our competitive job markets. It was mainly thought that Harvard and other Ivy Leagues engage in this practice, but in a study, it was found that approximately 43% of all grades distributed in 200 universities were in the A range. It was also reported that private schools have more students at the top of the grade distribution compared to public schools with equal acceptance rates. The median and most frequently awarded grade in Harvard is an A-. Other schools like MIT, Columbia, Yale, and Brown also have rampant grade inflation. These schools either have no F’s, or simply do not give out letter grades, but rather use a Honors/Pass/Fail system. Almost an astonishing two-thirds of Brown undergraduate students receive A’s. It really makes you think whether students from elite schools are actually more competent and successful than their counterparts.

2. You do not make more money.

Yes, Ivy League students do have a significantly higher income than other students in many cases, but do not let these statistics fool you. There seems to be a misconception that students from elite schools are smarter and more successful. While true to a certain degree, these numbers fail to take into account personal characteristics that can influence success.

A 2002 study conducted by Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale compared average yearly incomes of Ivy League students and those who were accepted into Ivy Leagues but chose a state college instead. What did they find? The average salaries of the two groups were essentially the same! So, no, you do not just become more successful by attending an elite school. It really is about your intrinsic motivation.

3. Jobs don’t care.

While Ivy Leagues can definitely raise your chances of getting a head start in competitive fields, such as finance and law, your college degree will not linger on for the rest of your career path. After your first job, what really matters is your experience, not the college you attended. Your employer is probably not going to go through the effort of scrutinizing your transcript.

4. In the real world, connections are everything.

Ivy Leagues are excellent to build networks. I mean, just take Mark Zuckerberg for example. He went to Harvard and dropped out after developing a social network with his roommates. And now, he is one of the richest people in the world with almost 2.07 billion active users on Facebook. Some of the most powerful and influential people have attended Ivy Leagues, so attending one guarantees that you are making bright connections. But, here is the good news. Successful and highly motivated people are everywhere. Any big school will have an ample number of people to connect with and opportunities to embark upon.

5. GPA isn’t everything.

Due to grade inflation, GPA’s have become so saturated and unreliable as an accurate method of evaluating merit and capacity for professional work. No wonder that a recent 2012 study revealed that GPA is the 7th out of 8 factors that employers consider before hiring. Internships, previous job experience and extra-curriculars played a much larger role. These are all assets that can be explored at any college.

6. Use college as an opportunity to explore.

In today’s age, the decision of whether you go to college matters far more than that of where you to choose to go. A degree is a degree and job outcomes are virtually unaffected by whether you attend UPenn or Penn State. The decision really is yours, so choose wisely. It’s easy to get caught up in competition and status, but keep in mind that an elite school will not guarantee your success. Instead, find a school that fits your preferences based on location, environment, cost, and size. College isn’t just a straight route to hang a prestigious degree on your wall, but your chance to explore your interests and build a career path.

To be clear, I am not against Ivy Leagues. They are excellent for their academic prowess, networking, and an almost guaranteed “head start” in the work field. Do not shy away from applying to Ivy Leagues but at the same time, keep in mind that a rejection is not the end of the world. In the grand scheme of things, where you went to college will not matter — but rather what you did once you got there.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Study Session

Something that I have noticed about myself is that it is really hard for me to be productive if I don’t have the pressure of an exam or a deadline to push me to get work done in advance. I’ve procrastinated more than usual on important assignments recently because I just could not get into the “study mode.” If I am not in the “mode,” I either take a much longer time to get work done, or I don’t fully understand what I am working on. And that is just a huge waste of time! So I made a list of some of the things that I do to help myself get into that study zone and be more productive during a study session!

1. Get a drink and snacks

Hunger is my biggest distraction while I am studying. There is nothing worse than getting in the “study zone” only to feel hungry and realize that I didn’t bring any snacks with me. And that has actually happened to me multiple times. So now, I make sure to bring granola bars or fruits with me when I study. I personally like nuts, grapes, blueberries, or other small snacks that I can continually pop into my mouth whenever I feel the hunger. I also make sure to always have water with me, or if I am at home, I make a cup of tea!

2. Put on some study music

Study music is the second most important thing for me when it comes to creating a perfect study atmosphere. It depends on how I feel that day, but I usually either listen to movie instrumentals or white noise. I don’t want the music to distract me, but at the same time, I get distracted when it is too quiet. My favorite instrumental soundtracks include Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Such music tends to keep me awake and helps me focus. If I don’t feel like listening to actual music, I play Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings ASMR on YouTube.

3. Gather all of your tools

It may sound self-explanatory to prepare all of your tools before you study, but you would be surprised at how many times I have forgotten something essential. I like to take elaborate notes, so I always have to make sure that I have my highlighters, colored pens, post-its, and white out with me, otherwise, I can’t take my notes the way I want to take them. It may sound unnecessary, but sometimes, taking the time to make pretty notes helps you to study more effectively. I have found that when I make my notes colorful, I am able to better remember the information later on, and it is more fun to study those notes before the exam!

4. Light a scented candle (if you are studying at home)

I have recently started using an apple scented candle while I study, and it really does make a difference! The smell instantly makes me feel good and takes away some of the stress that is usually accompanied with a study session. I recently read this article about how smells can help enhance memory recall, and I think its an interesting concept that I would like to try!

These are some of the essentials that I have noticed make a huge difference when I am trying to create a productive study environment. I hope they can help anyone who has trouble getting into or staying in the study zone!

A Bumpy Ride

Hello! My name is Raaga and I am 18 years old. Seeing I am nearing the end of my teenage years, I thought I’d take a ride down memory lane and relive the bumps and excitement that my adolescence brought along.

As I stepped onto the rollercoaster, I had not the slightest clue of the journey I was about to embark upon; a ride that began as a slow trek accompanied with a few bumps – one that I could sustain without fear nor anxiety; I became consumed with my surroundings as my eyes pedaled from the distance to the immediate view- the vibrant skyline, the pretty trees, the tiny people – and then unexpectedly, I’d felt a jerk!

The cart commenced on the incredibly long journey to the peak; my heart began to race, my palms started to sweat, and I clenched my fists in anticipation of what lay on the other side.  The cart stopped for a second at the peak and I closed my eyes. ZOOP! The cart descended to the depths of Earth; my body fell forwards and my heart dropped- it almost skipped a beat. Just as I thought it was all over, I realized that this was only the first obstacle in this seemingly endless ride: my adolescence.

Before I had moved past one challenge, another had already begun. New worries and feelings knocked on my door without invitation. I constantly felt that I was in inner turmoil with myself. Where was I headed? What did I believe in? Who was I? If only I could make my way back to the carousel, the bumper cars, the Ferris wheel – anything to bring back my childhood.

As teenagers, we live in a society in which perfection is valued above all.  People are driven to showcase their beauty, accomplishments, experiences, and popularity to the world. The biggest victims of this race are adolescents.

Our timelines are flooded with endless pictures on social media.

Young adults are determined to display their greatest moments to hide their everyday, mundane lives.  Our constant need to be accepted by society and embody this vague definition of what constitutes “normal” and “cool” fuels much of the angst and anxiety experienced in this era.  

The hardest part about being a teenager is the constant worry about what others think of me. Even though in my heart, I know that it is so silly to want to be evaluated by others, I cannot seem to get rid of it. I do not know what to blame: my changing hormones or the predetermined standards and expectations of society.  

Undoubtedly, society has triggered insecurity and doubt within me. In particular, beauty standards have caused many women to feel unconfident and self-conscious. While my feelings of consciousness and doubt do persist, day by day, I am becoming more and more comfortable being with others. I understand that not everyone is staring at my flaws, but rather, people are interested in genuine talks.  As I grow older, I know that while there are people who are judgemental and critical, most of the world is dealing with the same exact insecurities that I deal with. They may not be the same, but everyone has some flaw, some shortcoming, or some baggage. My imperfections only stand out to me because I am exaggerating them. While I am tormenting myself on the inside, the rest of the world is dealing with its own problems.  

Society has created this perception that everyone needs to be perfect, but such an ideal does not exist in reality.

If I could give any advice to any preteen about to embark on this tiresome and overwhelming ride, I would tell them to embrace themselves, and all of their little quirks. When I meet people, I am not attracted to their features or their lavish lifestyles, but their personality and how they make me feel.  

Although the fear and doubt seem near impossible to deal with, it is only one part of an incredible journey.  After all, every ride has its bumps and pitfalls. For me, adolescence is not simply the era between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, but a worthwhile transformation from angsty juveniles to experienced adults.