Last of Many WebRegs, First of Many Tears

Guys, it’s happening. The G-word is upon us…. Don’t make me say it. I’m not going to say it. I’ll just find a meme that says it for me instead.

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Last Sunday, I registered for the last time. It was such a bittersweet moment because I thought about the first time I scheduled and how I was in tears because as a freshman, I registered last, and believe it or not, I got none of the classes I wanted. But now, three years later, I changed my major twice, changed my minor twice, took classes that had nothing to do with my major just to explore different topics, and I am still finishing on time having completed every requirement from all 3 schools I am in (SAS, Bloustein, and SCI) on top of finishing my SAS Honors requirements. On top of it, I am interning at Robert Wood, working part-time, and reading….for fun… so listen up underclassmen, you can do it all, I promise you. Want to know how? Just breathe, prioritize, and plan. I’m not kidding. (And yes, in that order).

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BREATHE. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned from my last seven semesters here at Rutgers has been to always take a step back, breathe, and remember that it will all work out. Whatever that it is, I promise you, it will work out. I am an extremely busy person – I take 18 credits a semester, I intern, I work, I am a research assistant, I am a peer instructor, and I am very up-to-date on all my TV shows (yes, I know what I said). Sometimes, I feel like I am on a hamster wheel, never being able to get off. But I make sure I make time every single day to unwind, whether it be by napping, by FaceTiming my little brother, or just hanging out in the kitchen with my housemates. When I feel anxious about a deadline or an upcoming presentation, I forget about it. And by that I mean I literally forget about. I step away from whatever is making me nervous or anxious or worried and I do something else until I am ready to come back to it. Sometimes, you just need a little breather for you to look at something with fresh eyes. Whatever that breather is, yoga, ice-cream, Netflix, going on a run, a nice bubble bath, napping, or writing – take that breather. You can do anything you want if you remember to take care of your own sanity and health first. You come first.

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Prioritize. What do you want? When do you want it done by? First, figure out what you want. When it comes to your classes, explore different subject matters your freshman year. Just because you think you’re pre-med, it doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for Intro to Computer Science or Art History. Join clubs. Go to your professor’s office hours. Talk to someone on a different floor in your residence hall. When you explore, you broaden your horizons. And when you broaden your horizons, you learn what it is you really love. My freshman year, I took Biology, Computer Science, Calculus II, Greek Civilization, and a Public Health class. Some classes stuck…some didn’t. But I learned by taking those classes what I never wanted to do again (I’m talking about you partial derivatives) and what I could see myself spending the rest of my life learning about (Public Health).  So I prioritized. I had three priorities scheduled for myself second semester of freshman year: graduate with a B.S. in Public Health, complete all of my requirements, and get involved in the health care industry through internships and/or research. And that is exactly what I did. By focusing on what I wanted to do first, I was able to better plan the other aspects of my life… which brings me to….

plans

One tip I highly recommend is to plan out your next four years now in regards to classes. Open up Excel and create a schedule for all of the semesters you have left. I did this my sophomore year and I really wish I did it sooner because it really helped me figure out what classes were offered and when (as some classes are only Fall or Spring) or if two requirements overlapped in class meeting times, what was the best way to handle that. And best thing is, since it’s Excel, if you change your mind or change your major, you can just readjust your schedule and see if you’re still on track with your goals. Use Degree Navigator, the Honors Program website, Course Schedule planner, and your Honors advisors to figure out what classes you want to take and when. This will help you make sure you finish your requirements as well as give you opportunity to plan for studying abroad or internships.

You should also plan your future after college. No, I don’t mean you need to know exactly which graduate school you are going to go to or exactly what career path you want. Rather, I mean you should take advantage of the career-planning resources that are all over campus such as University Career Services or the Career Fair. Drop in and have your resume critiqued or sit with an advisor and learn about different post-grad options. Go to the career fair with an open mind and a pen – just expose yourself to the outside world, because unfortunately, we all have to face the G-word sooner or later.

 

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Why Snapchat Is Making Us Crazy

Now before I begin, I should mention that I am a loyal Snapchat user, so I am guilty of being absorbed in this obsession as well.  I’ve been thinking about writing about this for weeks now, but I refrained because I did not want to be hypocritical.  Yet, the more I have thought about it, the sillier and more trivial Snapchat became.  To clarify, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to delete their Snapchats or even break their streaks (oh, the horror!), but I think it’s important for us, including me, to take a step back and consider the extent to which social media has taken over our lives.

Our obsession with Snapchat only works to the company’s advantage with each update becoming more and more exciting and tempting for the consumer.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Snapchat is a fun way to connect with people, share our lives through pictures, and even experience others’ lives (including celebrities) in a quick 10-second video and a five-word caption.  It’s also a simple way of interacting because it takes the pressure and effort from having a full conversation and typing things out.  However, some features on Snapchat which seem “fun” are actually quite problematic.

Here are 4 ways that Snapchat is making us all go crazy.

Streaks. 

Streaks are basically a challenge you have with another person, in which both people send one snap daily.  A fire emoji appears next to that person’s name after 3 consecutive days, with the number increasing every day.  When you approach the 100-day milestone, a 100 emoji appears to celebrate the achievement. Not going to lie, reaching this mark for the first time was pretty exciting!

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But, here is where the problem begins.  Once you start one streak, you are suddenly tempted to start more. It almost feels like an unofficial rule that once you reach a certain stage of a new friendship, a streak must be initiated.   As the number continues to increase, the pressure to maintain the streak increases.  It’s a commitment that I honestly did not sign up for.

Some of my streaks are with people that I barely talk to. If a daily snap back and forth is the only communication you hold with someone, why is so much value placed upon the streak? The truth is I’d rather have streaks feel exciting like they initially did rather than a daily task I have to complete.  Of course, I do have some friends and groups on Snapchat that I actually share meaningful things with.  Streaks that are built this way are totally awesome! But, if the only reasons I snap people daily is for the sake of the streak, then something is wrong.

Sending mass snaps or blank screens with “streak” written on it, asking my friends to take over my account when I’m on vacation or cannot use Snapchat, and attaching too much value to a streak are signs of the obsession. Can we just take a second to acknowledge how silly all of this is?! What’s worse is that the easy solution of breaking streaks is frankly not-so-easy.  After a certain point, breaking a streak feels like betrayal.  Like, why break it now after coming so far?  But, we really need to ask ourselves: if not now, when? 

Stories.

Stories are great ways of sharing memorable moments with all of your friends at once.  Even better, it lasts an entire day, so it’s cherished longer.  However, I think stories lose their purpose and value when people feel the need to share every moment of their lives without taking the time to put their phone away and really enjoy it.  Because, trust me, no one wants to go through 2 minutes worth of a concert that you are attending on his/her phone.  Instead of watching the whole thing through a screen, I bet you that being present in the moment is much more fulfilling.  And it’s okay, you can spare the rest of your friends the shaky footage and replace it with one or two pictures because they are probably tapping through it anyway.

But, I get it.  Some meals, moments and places are so aesthetic that they have to be captured. However, people who snap everything they eat, every place they visit, and every party they’re at are a bit concerning.  Stories are a lot more interesting to look through when they are something new and exciting.  Seeing my entire Snapchat flooded with the same old stories every day is honestly a bit depressing.

Snap Score.

Snapchat scores are a sum total of all the snaps that you have sent and received.  Like other social media websites, the higher the number, the more “authoritative”, “cool” or “popular” you seem.  Humans are naturally competitive. Increasing their scores can become a motivation to constantly add new people, send pointless snaps and keep loads of streaks.  In fact, the Internet has tons of websites on how to increase snap scores. Here’s an example:Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.47.24 PM

Just the fact that such websites exist is scary because it shows how deeply engrossed we are into social media.

Emojis.

Ah, the infamous best friend list on Snapchat.  The emojis next to people’s names code for so much, effectively ranking friendships and increasing paranoia everywhere. The fact that it’s so indirect makes it exciting and sneaky, but also super nervewracking.

In particular, the smirky face and gritting teeth emojis are prone to making people feel jealous and insecure.  Also, the hearts hold special value.  The red heart appears after 2 weeks of being each others #1 best friend, and the two pink hearts appear after 2 months.  Losing a heart is heartbreaking to some people, and can potentially lead to salty feelings.  The whole ordeal is stressful and worrisome.

Snapchat should not be about maintaining unnecessary commitments, but rather sharing and interacting with friends.  If once in a while, your best friend list changes around, it should not mean the end of the world.  Friendships on Snapchat are ranked according to the number of snaps you send people.  It’s impossible to send snaps to the same person for a prolonged time unless it’s done purposefully. Therefore, your best friend list is bound to change around and does not necessarily equate to your real-life friendships.  If not being your friend’s BFF on Snapchat is enough to get you paranoid, how strong is your friendship?

I have yet to break my streaks or even consider deleting my Snapchat because quite frankly, I’m weak and easily tempted. However, just realizing the extent of the obsession is important.  As they say, acceptance is the first step to change.  Personally, I’m taking little steps to step away from social media once in a while and really enjoy the moment.  Resisting the urge to snap everything, not adding all of my suggested friends, and not worrying about my best friend list are some ways I have addressed the problem.  At the end of the day, real-time interactions hold so much more value than a three-second snap.

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.

Cool Websites

Hello everyone! It’s finally fall!! Yay! In this cold weather what better thing is there to do besides wrapping yourself in a blanket, sitting on the bed, and surfing the web? I thought this month I would share with you a compilation of websites that are weird, cool, and/or useful. Enjoy and be sure to check out the websites you find interesting!

    1. Brain Pickings

This is a blog run by an MIT Fellow student named Maria Popova. She basically amasses thought-provoking content in pretty much any subject you can think of including philosophy, art, history, politics, anthropology and more! She recently wrote about how the tale of Big Wolf & Little Wolf  teaches us about the importance of friendship and having a sense of belonging. If you would like delve into topics and love to ponder upon things in the world, then this is the site for you!

2. TED


I am sure, or at least I hope, most if not all of you have heard of TED. TED hosts many talks that are truly inspirational and amazing. From the newest breakthroughs in science to how to start a good habit, TED talks will keep you updated on the most innovative and enriching discoveries happening around the world. My personal favorite would be there inspirational videos. In particular, I loved “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” talk given by Mel Robbins, “Why 30 is not the new 20” by Dr. Meg Jay, and “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” given by Celeste Headlee.

3. The Useless Web

Okay, so this is when you are so terribly bored that you don’t really care about what website you want to go to. The Useless Web will take you to pointless, but somehow entertaining websites that might just cure your boredom. All you do is click the “Please” button and, voila, you’re directed to a unique site each time. Oh the places you’ll go. You’ll never know where you’ll be directed! Have fun. I definitely thought this site was perfect for when you have just taken a brutal midterm and don’t really want to start that episode of your show you’re obsessed with because you know you’ll end up watching for at least 3 hours

4. Giphy

Please embrace yourself for this one. This is a website filled with GIFs of every possible thing you can imagine. Not only can you search for endless GIFs, but also make one of your own!

5. Unplug the TV!

Even if no one might still watch TV, here is a website that gives you random, but informative videos to watch. The best part is you never know what video you’ll get! If you don’t want to watch something, then you can always skip to next random video. Just to show you the randomness: my first time I got a video about three moons that could be planets, then I got a video about the end of the Arctic, and just now I got one about what Cannabis does to your brain!

6. The Oatmeal

If you are looking to laugh, and who isn’t, then this comic website is your best choice. Matthew Inman’s illustrations are so funny, humorous, and will surely lighten your mood.  Most of the comics are relatively short and sweet, so you don’t have to worry about finishing pages of comics in the little free time you do manage to have. Do check this one out!

LIVING ON BUSCH, CLASSES ON COLLEGE AVE, WORK ON COOK- The Life of A Daily Rutgers Bus Hopper

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Every Tuesday for me starts at 8 AM, as I get ready to catch the 8:30 REX B from Allison Road Classroom to Red Oak Lane. At Red Oak, I switch to either an EE or F bus which will take me to Biel Road (hopefully) in time for me to start work in the Cook Cafe at 9AM. At 1:30, I get on a bus at Biel again to take me to College Hall where I can get back on the REX B to take me back to ARC ( where I usually get on an A OR B bus because at that point I’m to lazy to walk to my apartment). All these buses and it is just about 2 PM, I haven’t yet proceeded to go to class on College Ave.  On Tuesdays, I take an average of 7 buses through the day or more sometimes. That is the life of this daily bus hopper.

I lived in Frelinghuysen hall last year and I didn’t know how much I would miss it till I left. I’m a Journalism a major so therefore all my classes are at SC&I and while living in the river dorm, I took for granted the easy walk to class, the quick power nap I could take before my next class and the way I was able to avoid most of the bus stress. But the great thing about Rutgers is that on every campus there are little spots where you can relax, study and sometimes avoid the stress of the bus. For me, that is the Art Library on College Ave.

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Nestled in between Murray and Voorhees hall, the library is located inside a wide brick building. With the fading gold-lettered sign proclaiming its name, it is easy to ignore and move on with your day, but for those who know it, it is a haven. I first encountered this building, during finals season of the first semester of my freshman year. The study lounges in my dorm were full and Alexandra as always was packed. I hated taking the buses, so going to a library on another campus was not even a possibility. I finally decided to just study in a class, and as I walked to Murray hall, I noticed the building beside it with letters that seemed to say library. Having no other option in mind; I walked in and fell in love because a lot of people didn’t know it existed there were tons of space. My favorite place to study in the library is the couch chairs in front of the big window. The chairs are amazingly comfortable and have a table attached to them so that’s practical and we can’t forget about the wonderful view of voorhees mall ( there also happens to be excellent lighting here for selfies). It has become my sanctuary- where I can relax in between classes and work instead of heading back on the bus to Busch. 

So my advice for my fellow bus hoppers ( and I know there are many) is to find your own space on whatever you campus you are on, that will be your place to rest or study or watch a movie, just where you can feel at home. P.S. I wouldn’t mind sharing mine with you.

The Truth About Freshman 15

I remember the first time I was introduced to Freshman 15 like it was yesterday.  Health class during my junior and senior years of high school, my teachers cautioned us about the dreaded weight gain college students experience in their freshman year.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard about it.  15 whole pounds?!

But, when I stepped foot into college, I realized how possible it truly was.  The tempting aromas, the endless options in cafeteria buffets, the abundance of cool restaurants everywhere I turned and could not wait to dine at…Freshman 15 almost seemed inevitable.

Also, just think about it.  For many people, college is the first time that they are in complete control of their eating choices.  Students are at liberty to eat whenever they want, wherever they want.  With hours worth of free time between classes and an overload of tasks to stress about, snacking becomes the perfect solution distraction.

After a month of college, I am tempted almost every single day to grab some hot chocolate, delve in ice cream, maybe even treat myself to bubble tea! Being a commuter, I do not have meal swipes, and get home-cooked meals.  Maybe that makes it a little easier for me to avoid unhealthy eating habits, but I can imagine how difficult it is for residents to resist the temptation.

   

So, we all seem doomed, don’t we? Actually, no, we aren’t.  There are several myths floating around about Freshman 15, making it seem more dangerous and unavoidable than it actually is.

  1. People typically 10-15 pounds of weight gain. The truth is that the average weight gain 2 to 5 pounds.  Some studies show the average to be around 7 pounds.  Of course, it is difficult to compute a mathematical average because every individual is unique, and different factors, including metabolism, family history, medical history and environment, influence one’s chances of weight gain.  Although 15 pounds is an exaggeration, it is not impossible–about 10% of students gain that much.
  2. Weight gain only affects freshmen. Changes in eating habits and lifestyles are constant throughout adulthood.  Metabolism slows down as people approach their 20s. While most weight gain is said to occur during a student’s first year in college, it is possible in any year.  In freshman year, most students are in the transition phase.  They are prone to experience homesickness, elevated anxiety levels, sadness and loneliness.  All of these responses can trigger stress-eating.
  3. Weight gain is due to partying and drinking.  The truth is that Freshman 15 is the result of a combination of different factors. Large meal plans, excess snacking, lack of exercise, binge drinking and increased stress can contribute.  Although partying and drinking are unhealthy, it is a jump to conclude that they are the cause of Freshman 15. The overall changes in eating behaviors, such as irregular eating times and large portions are more likely to cause weight gain.
  4. Weight loss is impossible. Sometimes, just the fear of Freshman 15 can put students at risk of body dissatisfaction and potential eating disorders.  The paranoia can lead to unhealthy dieting and habits.  Instead of skipping meals, the best way to avoid weight gain is to adopt healthy practices. Rather than making drastic changes to diet, it is far better to make small adjustments and set attainable goals.  If you feel guilty or over conscious about your food intake, talk to your doctor or seek counseling at Rutgers (CAPS).

Putting on a couple of pounds is not something to fear. As our bodies continue to develop, changes in weight are expected and completely healthy.  However, increased weight gain is problematic.  Many health risks, including high cholesterol, blood pressure and joint problems are likely.  A poor lifestyle can pave the path for future problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Even if some students do not gain significant weight, they should not continue to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors. They most likely do not have a balanced nutrient intake.  Their concentration, memory and performance, in general, can lag behind.

Here are a few tips to avoid Freshman 15:

  • Stick to an eating schedule to avoid unnecessary snacking
  • Avoid eating late night
  • Do not skip meals
  • Keep a watch on your meal portions
  • Avoid vending machines
  • Replace soda with water/milk/juice
  • Treat yourself occasionally 🙂
  • Do not eat while doing other tasks- watching TV, studying, etc
  • Work out for a minimum of 30 minutes daily (gym, fitness group activities, dance, jogging)
  • Sleep for 7-8 hours each night
    • Avoid caffeine or watching TV before sleeping (I know it’s hard!)

With a little bit of control and moderate efforts to maintain an active lifestyle, Freshman 15 is yet another challenge in college that can be conquered.

Why We Love Rutgers!

Happy October! With leaves falling, colors changing, sweatshirts finally coming out of the closet, and pumpkin-flavored everything, it’s hard to believe we were just in the lull of the lazy, hot days of summer. But now, we have finished one whole month of surviving classes and surviving the dining halls, so let’s give ourselves a pat on the back. We wanted to take some time today to share with you our favorite things from this past month at Rutgers as well as what we think makes Rutgers, well Rutgers.

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One of my favorite thing about Rutgers, especially the first semester, is FOOTBALL!!!! Yes, I know we do not win games. Yes, I also know I don’t know the first thing about football. And yes, I know I can no longer get meal-swipe chicken nuggets because I no longer have meal swipes (It’s a tough life to be an off-campus senior). BUT, there is nothing that makes me feel more like part of the student body, more like a Rutgers Scarlet Knight than standing on the bleachers every Saturday game, chanting and singing and cheering along with the sea of scarlet and black around me. It is such a fun experience being surrounded by people who are so passionate about your school, whether they be your roommates, or those friends that you haven’t seen since freshman year, or the alumni who come back with their kids at least one game a season just because they just love it too. If you haven’t gone to a football game yet, I highly encourage it. It is 100% a REVOLUTIONARY experience (ha ha get it?) – Fairooz K.

I commute, and I take pretty credit-intensive course loads just due to the nature of my physics major. So, I don’t actually do a lot of activities and such on campus. However, because of one of my jobs, the events I really like are Rutgers’ Day, which is the school-wide event in the spring, and an event that’s pretty specific to my job, which are the annual Faraday Shows. One of my jobs is working in the Physics Lecture Hall building, if any of you guy’s have classes there; I set up demonstrations and help maintain stuff in that building. For Rutgers’ Day, our boss hosts a show where he does physics demonstrations, which may not sound that exciting, but he really is an amazing showman. So he does a physics show that mostly younger kids attend, but anyone is welcome to come, and before that show starts, his workers (me included) stand outside the building and do a few physics demonstrations ourselves, which is pretty neat actually getting to teach a concept, makes ya feel smart. The same thing is done around the December holiday season for the Faraday Shows, and it’s fun seeing all the little kids get excited for these demos. It’s cool seeing kids actually get excited by physics (I try to talk to my family about this stuff and they get annoyed with me in like a matter of minutes I’m so insulted). – Becky K.

The number of people at Rutgers initially made me nervous, but it has easily become my favorite thing about this school. There are many perks to going to such a large college. I see new people every single place that I go, which is nice because I can potentially make new friends every day, but at the same time I don’t get sick of seeing the same people all the time. I think it would be a little overwhelming to never see familiar faces, so the splitting of the campus into five smaller ones allows me to run into people that I already know when I am on home on College Ave. As annoying as it can sometimes be to take a bus everywhere, having five different campuses means that I get to experience going to school in urban, suburban, and rural environments, and there is an always event with free food happening somewhere. Because Rutgers has so many people to cater to, there are enough clubs, activities, majors, and classes to interest every person. School spirit is very important to me, so I love knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of students and alumni walking around who are equally as proud to be Scarlet Knights as I am. – Nishita Patel

What I love most about Rutgers, in addition to all the games and the food, is the overall sense of belonging one achieves through spending time here. I dorm, but at the same time I don’t live too far from home, and I go home on most weekends, but while at Rutgers, I try to find the clubs, the classes, and the opportunities that make me go “Yes, that is me in the vision I see of this.” So far, over these past three years, I’ve been feeling more and more like I fit in perfectly with the enormous community here. There are so many opportunities to get involved, and many ways for everyone to tailor their own schedules, and at the same time, if new things feel a bit overwhelming, I can always turn to close by old friends and family to keep me motivated. Out of any other college, Rutgers is enormous, inclusive, and is the happy medium between my growing community at Rutgers and my past existing community back home in Edison. Of course, the fat sandwiches don’t disappoint, but one day will come where I can finish a full one without feeling like I ate an elephant. Maybe my sense of belonging is with those who can’t finish one no matter how hard they try… – Neelay Inamdar

When I got my schedule, I was initially disappointed to see that most of my classes were on Douglass.  Douglass. The campus that no one wants to be on.  I’d heard that it was boring, lonely, etc… Yet, when I first got off the REX B bus onto College Hall, I was pleasantly surprised.  I liked it.  Now, I cannot speak for everyone, but I absolutely loved the peaceful, rural vibe of Douglass. It was full of trees and quiet- perfect for studying! Some of my favorite spots to study on Douglass include the Mabel Smith Douglass Library and the Douglass Student Center.  The Douglass Library is one of the best ones in Rutgers.  It’s small and aesthetic.  Also, side fact, I was amazed that students gets $30 worth of free printing money which equates up to 750 pages! The student center has great study spots, including a commuter lounge.  Plus, there’s a Dunkin Donuts inside as well! While College Ave and Livingston seem like the life of Rutgers, Douglass is beautiful in its own way, and I’m glad I got a chance to experience it – Raaga Rambhatla

One of my favorite things about Rutgers, other than the people and the things to do, is the size. While going from campus to campus on the buses is sometimes a struggle (7 LX buses and 2 B buses passed before a REXL came), to me there’s something reassuring in knowing that I have four campuses to choose from, whether it’s visiting the Geology Museum or eating out on College Ave, or visiting Passion Puddle and the farm on Cook Douglass. Each campus is unique in its own way, yes, even Busch, who I have heard referred to as an “industrial wasteland” with the construction. But even then, the leaves of the ginkgo trees by the medical school continue to turn bright yellow in the fall year after year, while on Livingston, there’s the ecological preserve to gawk at trees and the Cinema to watch the latest movies. In addition to the whole host of study nooks and crannies on each campus, there’s so many opportunities out there and so many wonderful people to meet! – Jenny X.

My biggest fear about Rutgers was not being able to get my fresh start in college because so many people from my high school would be coming to Rutgers as well. However, I was still able to start fresh and find a group of people that where I felt I belonged. What I love about Rutgers is the opportunities. Regardless of what your interests may be whether it be singing, Irish dancing, debating, there is a niche for everyone here at Rutgers, and despite what you may think everyone comes to Rutgers with the hopes of a clean slate, so you can always be completely yourself and find a group of like-minded people where you belong! – Aarohi Apte

So in college, many people tend to gain weight. There are so many changes that is going on in your life such as lack of sleep, stress, and diet changes. With all these changes, I think that it’s very important to maintain a healthy diet to maintain a healthy life. In my opinion the dining hall food here is really good (shout out to Neilson), however I initially found it hard to eat healthy. There was so much pasta and pizza and the lettuce did not look appetizing at first. I didn’t notice that changes immediately, but I wasn’t as active and alert as I used to be and I never really felt satisfied. After freshmen year, I decided that I need a change in my diet. So at the start of this semester, I forced myself to make salad every time I went to the dining hall and it was surprisingly good. If you had some chicken or beans (if you are a vegetarian), then it gets really good with a little bit of pasta then you get a wholesome meal. I usually have this everyday, and I honestly feel fuller and a lot of energetic (although I am exercising more than I did last year). There are so many benefits to maintaining a healthy diet such as increase in academic scores, more energy, and less depression. – Akhila M

Need a place to chillax, rejuvenate, and/or study and work? Well, dear reader, I propose Hidden Grounds! One of my favorite places on Rutgers (and on Earth), Hidden Grounds is a coffee and tea café with a friendly, inviting atmosphere I certainly vibe with. Enjoy a warm, delicious Nutella Mocha or a calming, refreshing Rose Iced Chai with perhaps a famous Bombay Sandwich, while you work on assignments—or chat with friends—surrounded by some mellow tunes. I’ve never had coffee THIS good in an environment that’s filled with SUPER-AWESOME energy. My metaphorical home is located at 106 Easton Ave. Give it a shot—and get some espresso shots while you’re at it! 😉 – Tanya B.

One of my favorite things about Rutgers is the countless opportunities there are for everything! You have literally hundreds of choices for everything. For example, if you want to join a club, then there are over a hundred clubs. If you are looking for a place to study, then I will guarantee you that you will find a place that will cater to your needs. For instance, if you like to study in quiet places, then you have the third floor of Library of Science of Medicine on Busch, Alexander library’s beautiful lounges, and even Douglass’ artsy study areas. If you like it bright and not terribly quiet, then the Academic Building on College Avenue campus is probably the place for you! Now, let’s not forget about how many food choices we have! From Burger King, and Chipotle, and Popeyes in New Brunswick downtown to Qdoba, Henry’s Diner, and Asian Fusion on Livingston, food variety is not a concern. Don’t forget the multiple Starbucks on College Avenue and Moe’s on Busch campus as well! Whatever you are thinking of doing, you can find a way to do it here at Rutgers. It is crazy and so amazing. There’s never a dull moment! – Aishwarya Madhikar

A lot of the time, my schedule includes a class in the morning and a class in the evening. Being a commuter student, I don’t have a dorm room to go to in between classes. I have to find other places that I can spend my time and be productive. Of course it is always nice to go to the library to get work done, but sometimes I get bored and need a change. One of my favorite places is the Starbucks on Livingston. I personally really like the “coffee-shop” ambiance, so I don’t mind the noise level. I also like to study at the Academic Buildings on College Ave. They have really comfortable couches and the view from the huge windows is really beautiful! On Busch, I sometimes go to the learning center at the SERC, which is a really great place to study if you don’t feel like going to the library! If you are like me and frequently need a change of atmosphere to be more productive, there are a ton of great places to check out on each campus! – Amanda Siriram

One of the few things that I wish I knew about when I came to Rutgers was where to
get the best food. As a commuter, I tried to save money by not buying a meal plan.
Instead, I opted to get food from the food vendors around and in the student centers
whenever I needed to. So here are some of my favorite places:
1. Woody’s – A secret deli located deep within the Busch campus. Here you will not
only find RWJ medical students and pharmacy kids, but also you will find a fantastic
deli, salad bar, and convenience store.
2. Busch Campus Center – Moe’s Bar, Gerlanda’s, Szechwan Ichiban, and the
convenience store. Great diversity of foods. From sushi to burritos to pizza to wraps,
Busch campus center offers one of the best student center food options!
3. College Ave Student Center –  Just like the BCC, the CA student center also offers
many choices of food options. King Pita, Gerlanda’s (again lol), Subway, Wendys.
There are so many choices that you will be wondering what you wanna eat! – Saad Mansuri

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Procrastination Nation

If you can figure out how to sing the title to the tune of “Conjunction Junction” do it, it’ll be funnier; I tried to sit here for like 10 seconds working that out, but kind of gave up on it. I’m sure the creative-minded can do it.

HEY GUYS ANOTHER YEAR OF SCHOOL ANOTHER YEAR OF FAILURES AM I RIGHT? Nah you’re probably doing fine, just like, don’t procrastinate like me. That blog post by Akhila, when they said “I overextended myself and my GPA suffered and I’m still trying to recover,” take that advice to heart man. I feel. Ditto.

That being said, guess who overextended themselves again. I’m doing a job like 8 hours a week, research like 8-10 hours a week, 17.5 credits, it’s maddening. I mean I like doing all of it, I just hope I can actually do it. That, plus I have a major procrastination problem. I’m usually better about work and research, I procrastinate significantly less because for those things other people depend on me and such. But my homework??? Work I don’t want to do, and put off to watch people online cook instead. And I happened to make a vegan shepherd’s pie yesterday, while I was procrastinating on doing my quantum physics homework. So, I’m just gonna tell you how I made it, and honestly I would love it if you guy’s left comments on what you would do differently. Seeing and hearing different culinary techniques I live for (I used to want to be a chef, for probably 10 years of my life, before I made a h a r d left into the world of astrophysics, which then turned into experimental high energy particle physics after being a research assistant for a professor in that field).

SO, my sister is vegan. Honestly, I like vegan food more than she does, we were all shocked when she became vegan. Her favorite food used to be chicken nuggets. But she watched a sad cow video, and she won’t eat meat anymore. She’ll eat like, wild caught tuna because it’s not so bad to the fish I guess, so maybe more pescetarian on a technicality.  But, this digression was here for the sole purpose of saying; this is a vegan shepherd’s pie.  For those of y’all “in the know”, a shepherd’s pie is a meat stew (using either ground beef or ground lamb, and honestly I would’ve gone for lamb. Veeerrryy not vegan friendly, but I’m not vegan, and it would give a great richness, and a much more complex flavor than beef due to the gameier flavor that lamb has. I think it’s a bit more traditional as well, multiple sources online seem to believe that this was a dish made from roast dinner leftovers) and topped with mashed potato, then baked in the oven. A nice and hearty winter dish, that I made on a hot day in September (but it’s fine. I had the AC on and didn’t go outside, so I can pretend. Idk what y’all who live in dorms without air conditioning do honestly, bless ur souls).  Anyway, this is how I made a vegan version of a very meaty dish:

Of course the first step is cutting up potatoes and boiling them. Honestly, just make mashed potatoes however you want, I’ve seen people bake potatoes, then peel them and mash them up with cream and butter because they’re drier and absorb the fat and cream better, which makes a lot of sense. But boiling is traditional and quicker, so. I peeled and boiled potatoes, then went on to making the “meat” stew. You start any stew by sweating aromatic vegetables. These are veggies that fragrance the dish, and are pretty classic to use in essentially any food that cooks a while, be it stew, soup, porridge, what have you. You could use a whole mirepoix (a fancy french term for diced onion, carrot, and celery). That’s your traditional French base for a whole load of food. Or you could go with The Holy Trinity, which is Creole cooking, where you replace the celery with green bell pepper (my preferred one, because I dieted once in high school by eating only celery for lunch and now hate celery with a burning passion). Though, I just went with onion and carrot, but I used a lot of onion because I love the sweetness it gives. So, sauteed a relatively fine diced onion and carrot mixture in olive oil until soft (you could also go to brown, that will enhance the sweetness because you’ll start caramelizing the natural sugars in the vegetables), then threw in a bunch of minced garlic. I love garlic so I do a boat load. Up to you on the level of garlic, I wouldn’t do less than like, mmmmm, three fat cloves?

You don’t cook garlic too long ever. Just until you can smell it. If you burn the garlic, the whole thing’s ruined forever, it gets too bitter. Don’t even let it brown. That’s why it goes in after the rest of the veggies are soft. Then I put in some tomato past and let that brown up for probably a minute. Next, chuck in your vegan soy crumbles. Mmmmmmm, soy crumbles. It’s honestly not so bad. If you heat them and spice them up, they taste perfectly fine, I think. Don’t expect them to taste like real meat, though. Never go into a vegan recipe with the expectation of tasting like it’s non vegan counter part, you’re always going to be disappointed then. Just enjoy food for what it is. (What I really would’ve loved to do, would be take a bunch of mushrooms. I’m talking like 3-4 pounds. Cutting those up to a medium dice, and use those instead of the soy crumbles. It’ll cook down to like half it’s size I think mushroom is a great alternative to meat, but my sister hates them so only me and my mom would eat the whole pie. But, if you’re actually vegetarian or something, and want to try this recipe, be my guest, tell me how it goes, that would be my preferred method to veganize this dish). Saute the soy crumbles for a little bit, then add a spoonful of flour. This will combine with the oil in your saute, and make kind of a roux, which will thicken your stew when you add liquid to it. Though it’s important to cook the flour a bit after you’ve added it, otherwise your stew will just taste like raw flour, and if you’ve ever eaten plain flour it’s disgusting.

Flour’s cooked, now add your liquid. I added water instead of a vegetable stock, which is what I would ordinarily use. However, I wanted to add water because I knew I was going to flavor the stew with miso and soy sauce. Mmmm, I do this to a lot of vegetarian dishes, not just Japanese cooking. I do this because it adds a way more complex flavor than just salt, and for something vegetarian you need the added flavor from something. Ordinarily it’s the browning of meat, and meat already has a kind of complex flavor, especially lamb or a stewing beef like you’d use in this dish. But, veggies. So, I like the combination of miso and soy sauce (if I had used the mushrooms I d e f i n i t l e y would’ve used soy sauce, it adds an “umami” flavor, which is a word I hate by the way because I don’t think that fifth umami taste actually exists. Taste is a combination of four-five flavors and scents in case you didn’t know, there are flavor receptors on your tongue that react to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Spice is actually produced by capsaicin, which binds to taste receptors and sends the signal of spice, or pain or whatever, to your brain. It’s not a flavor. Some people say umami is the fifth flavor. Hogwash I say. But I’m not a neuro scientist so it’s just my opinion. But whatever, soy sauce and mushroom provides an amazing depth of flavor when combined, almost meaty like). So, added in the water, soy sauce, miso, then other spices (mine were chipotle powder for smokiness, black pepper, salt, garlic and onion powder, turmeric cause it’s healthy apparently, and probably others idk, add what you like. I used a tiiiny bit of cinnamon actually, it adds a subtle sweetness and a complex thing again). Then I added apple cider vinegar, to brighten up the stew with some acid, and let that thicken along with some frozen corn I added to warm up. Had I used meat I would’ve let it actually stew but it was soy so frick the rules. Then I finished it up with chopped herb: dill, parsley, and thyme.

The potato, my sister actually seasoned. She makes great mashed potatoes, idk what’s up. She used vegan butter, vegan milk (our’s was almond and coconut), and a bunch of salt and hot sauce and other nonsense. Flavor as desired of course.  Then you kind of just put all of the stew in a skillet that is oven safe, and all of the potatoes on top of that stew. Make a design on the potato, which is important not for presentation (I give literally no cares about how my food looks if I’m not cooking for anyone). You do design on top because it will have some peaks and what not, and the peaks will brown up and be a bit crispy, and that will add more to the flavor because it’s all technically caramalization. I baked it for 20 minutes at 350.

Results: decent. What I would’ve changed is I would’ve added frozen peas as well as the corn. I would’ve used a few mushrooms if I could. I probably would’ve baked it longer, honestly I’d go like twice the time I think. I might’ve used some cilantro and lemon zest as well, add a bit more freshness. What I’m most regretful of is not adding a splash of red wine along with the water; there are alcohol soluble flavors in tomato that I’m sure would’ve added to the complexity of the flavor of this.

Now idk, this was a pretty long post, it may have bore you. I just love thinking about the flavors of food and how they work together. You could make a simpler version of this fit for a dorm I bet, since a lot of you probably do dorm. Like, just ground beef, an onion, water, mashed potatoes, salt, pepper, peas for nutrition because I hear stories about no one eating vegetables when they dorm and it terrifies me. Pretty simple. If any of you like to cook, please tell me, I would probably really enjoy just talking about food I make on this blog actually. I talk about complex flavors a lot, and they’re all subtle things no one really detects, but contributes to the whole dish to make it go from bland to flavorful. So, thanks for listening, if you made it past 1500 words good job I applaud you.

Also, just a quick shout out; I love seeing comments and likes because I rarely get any, and thanks to Zazzy, who’s the only person I’ve seen to leave a comment, and francoise47 who likes literally everything I write. Y’all make me smile. If you have requests for me to write about something specific tell me and I’ll do it, I like you guys. That is all, peace out, enjoy the start of your semester.

Being Productive, One Step at a Time

Summer is over and once again it’s time to break out the textbooks and get right back to work. School can feel very overwhelming as the semester starts to kick in and assignments get thrown at you from every angle. Throughout my first year of college, I noticed that a major source of my anxiety came from not planning enough and therefore procrastinating too much or not studying far enough in advance. So this semester, my goal is to stay on top of my due dates and be more organized so that I avoid that stress! Here are some of the things that I am doing to be more productive this semester:

1. Use a planner or printables

Recently, I bought a planner from barnes and noble for less than $15. It has a slot for each day of the week and it also has little section for important notes or for things that I don’t want to forget. Each day, I write down my plan for what I want to get done, as well as the homework that was assigned in that day’s class. I also use printable calendars to write down all of the due dates from the syllabi, since it is nice to see how much time I have in between assignments and activities. A website that I use to get printables is http://emmastudies.com/printables. There are so many different types of sheets that you can use to organize your week, your month, or your study schedule. I have previously used the “Exam Printable Pack” to organize what points I need to revise more before tests. I highly recommend it!

2. Put down the phone!

Phones are probably the biggest distractions that we have today. To combat this temptation, I use an app called Forest. All you have to do is set your timer for however long you want your study session to be, and a tree will begin growing while you study. If you exit the app while the timer is still going, you will kill your tree, so it forces you to stay off your phone. You can also label the study sessions so that you can track how much studying you have done each day for each subject. It feels really rewarding when I look back and see how productive I was. It’s really motivating!
Disclaimer: Forest is a paid app ($1.99), but I made sure that I liked this type of timer before paying for it. There are many other free apps that are very similar such as Focus Now, although there is less freedom when it comes to setting how much time you want to study for.

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3. Use Momentum

Momentum is one of my favorite productivity tools. It is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to write down your To-Do’s and check them off as you finish them. Although having a planner is essential to keep track of everything in the week, Momentum is extremely useful for deciding what you want to get done that day. There is a gorgeous picture from somewhere in the world, a large clock, and a motivating quote on the bottom. Just looking at the screen makes me feel motivated!

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These tips may seem really obvious, but it’s the little things that make a huge difference. Taking a bit of time to plan out your daily schedule and timing your study sessions can help you get more work done in a lot less time. Then you will have more time to get involved or spend time with friends! A good start to the school year will put you on the path to success!

The Life of a Commuter

Whether it comes up in daily conversation or classroom icebreakers, a common question is “What campus do you live on?!” Us commuters are left responding, “I commute.”

In a school as big as Rutgers, it’s easy to feel excluded or alone, especially when your time spent on campus is limited compared to other students.  It becomes easy to forget the wonderful perks of living off-campus when a large portion of the college experience revolves around being a resident.

So, is it worth it? As a reminder to myself and other commuters around, I decided to explore the life of a commuter. Thus, I’ve made a list of pros and cons as I often do in conflicting moments when I need to sort my ideas.

There are a lot of plus sides of commuting:

You get to live at home.  

Something that’s easy to forget to appreciate because we take it for granted. Living at home and being around your family is a huge bonus! Being a freshman, I am still trying to figure my way around and it can get lonely.  Coming back home everyday is both refreshing and comforting.  After hearing my resident friends complain about missing home, I feel lucky to still have that around.

You can come and leave whenever you want. 

Depending on your schedule, you can sleep in and leave right when your classes end.  I catered my schedule timings to my preferences- no early morning or late night classes.  I do not want to drive at night, especially during the winter months.  Nor do I want to spend hours in between classes in the library or wandering around campus.  I wanted to keep my classes close together, so I could just leave after the last one.  Rutgers has great flexibility for picking classes and timings.

You can avoid taking buses. 

You do not have to take buses going from and back to your dorm.  If you drive to campus, it is best to pick parking in the campus that is a) close to your house and b) where most of your classes are.  Plus, if you live close to campus, then the drive back home is often quicker than taking a bus back!

You have access to better food options. 

Let’s be real, dining hall food isn’t the most appetizing food around.  Meal plans can get expensive.  Thus, home cooked food is pleasant and most of the time, healthier.  Plus, there is always the option of eating out whenever you feel like it! To be completely honest, there are so many options for food at Rutgers and the wonderful smells can make it very tempting.  Having homemade food almost makes is easier to avoid Freshman 15!

It’s cheaper. 

You don’t have to pay for room and board which is huge.  And you’re living with your family, you don’t even have to worry about rent! Saving money is so important as a college student.

You get more alone time. 

You don’t have to deal with roommates or get distracted by loud parties close by. You can choose when you want to hang and socialize with others.

 

That being said, there are a few drawbacks as well.

It’s hard to get involved on campus. 

Most clubs meet late night, so getting involved can be difficult.  Many events held on campus can be hard to attend as well.  It sometimes feels like residents are getting a better college experience.

SOLUTION: Some clubs are flexible with timings- they’ll allow you to leave earlier or not meet regularly.  If necessary, you can always crash at a friend’s dorm! The Rutgers Commuter Student Association is a great student organization to join if you are a commuter!

It’s hard to make friends. 

Most likely, your high school friends are not around you in college.  Making new friends seems difficult, especially when you do not already have a roommate or dormmates to rely on.  Making friends in classes isn’t easy either- mainly because classes are huge and running into the same people is unlikely.

SOLUTION: Meeting new people everyday isn’t so bad.  Even though you miss that sense of familiarity that you had in high school, it’s fun to talk to different people everyday! But, as people say, college is the time when you make your greatest friends. Joining extracurriculars and organizations is the best way to meet new people and make long-lasting friends.

It’s hard to reach out for help. 

Many opportunities and resources available feel distant as a commuter.  Whether it’s tutoring services or asking friends for help, it’s hard to do that sitting at home.

SOLUTION: While some resources may be held back from you, there are plenty of others available at Rutgers.  Noting down a friend’s number from each of your classes is helpful if you ever have questions while doing homework.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!

Getting to your parking lot can become a hassle.

Especially if you have to go around to different campuses, getting back to your parking lot can require many bus changes.  It’s pretty annoying.

SOLUTION: Don’t worry, you’re not the only one!  Getting around by buses is annoying at Rutgers, for commuters and resident alike, especially when you are in a time scrunch.

Traffic and gas.

If you take the train, timings can seem pretty inflexible.  If you drive, traffic, especially during peak hours, will be a pain.  You might have to leave home an hour earlier just to make it to your classes.  Also, driving back and forth every day to college will use up gas.

SOLUTION: This is a good time management skill. Really! You never know what can go wrong, so it’s not a bad idea to get to campus earlier than your class time. Gas money is expensive, but at least you’re not paying for room and dorm, right?

You wish you could have that dorm experience.

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Hearing you friends talk about how they will decorate their dorms and seeing pictures of their completed rooms makes you wish you could have that experience too.  Seeing people be able to roam around campus and do whatever they want, whenever they want seems awesome.

SOLUTION: You get to do one thing that they don’t: come and leave campus whenever you want.  That’s its own freedom in a way.

So, what have I concluded? Is there an end to this dilemma? 

Personally for me, commuting has been a great experience thus far.  While being a resident has its perks, being a commuter is definitely a rewarding experience as well.  There will be a few hurdles along the way, but they are not impossible to overcome when you realize that you are not alone. If you want to join the Rutgers commuter group chat, here is the link.