Economical Entertainment: Cheap things to do as a Student

So this spring break I’ve been taking advantage of a lot of student discounts. However, I think the best deal I got was at RU Cinema. I got to see MoonlightLogan, and Get Out all on the same day for just $17. So I thought I’d list here some of the available cheap versions of entertainment available to Rutgers students.

  1. RU Cinema

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This is a really good deal, particularly if you bring your own snacks. It’s $5 per movie before 6 and $7 after 6, which is insane when considering how much tickets at a normal movie theater cost. Now granted, they only show 2-3 movies at a time, so you’re limited to what they have, but they’re mostly the good or popular movies, so it’ll satisfy most people.

2. Zimmerli Art Museum

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This is a great art gallery and admission is free! There’s always Art After Hours the first Tuesday of every month. My personal favorite is when, during the last reading day before finals, they stay open all night so you can study in the Art exhibits. It’s always really empty and is a really good change of scenery.

3. Performance Groups

Be it the many choirs on campus, dance groups, or theater companies, there’s always some sort of performance going on on campus. Not all are free, but a lot have free tickets available through the Honors Program if you keep your eye on the newsletter.

3. Honors Program Trips

People should really check the newsletters because there seems to be boundless opportunities for free entertainment, be it tickets to the symphony, trips to museums in NYC, or film screenings around campus.

4. RUPA Events

One of my favorite memories from my freshman year is of a friend and I going to a Mystery Dinner Theater run by RUPA. One person at every table was assigned a role and they had everyone go around introducing their character. When they go to the last table, they asked the character to stand up and this six foot guy just shouted back at the host, “I can’t stand, I’m Teddy Roosevelt,” leading to an uproar of laughter from everyone else in the room while his friend explained this was the other President Roosevelt. Outside of that they have a bunch of events every week ranging from quiz nights to broadway shows, it’s just a matter of signing up quickly enough to get a seat.

3. Rutgers Radio Stations

Available from Rutgers Radio and the Core both online and free, my favorite combination. They also provide a really diverse set of programming

4. The Library

I’m kind of mad at myself for not realizing this sooner, but you can borrow DVDs from the library. Not a lot, but as the kind of person who spent three months out of their childhood watching Rear Window every night, it’s nice to have access to them without having to pay for them on Amazon. Not to mention the number of films and plays that are available to stream from the libraries website. It’s useful for some classes and it’s just fun to see what they have if I can’t find it anywhere online that doesn’t cost money/is legal.

5. Cheap transportation

Now if you want to do something in NYC outside of a planned group trip, there are discount bus tickets available for $17(for reference a typical round trip train ticket from New Brunswick costs $28). If you’re going regularly, it’s probably better to get the monthly pass from NJ Transit, but I went to the Met Opera for the first time last week (in the cheap $27 seats on the top floor) and that was a real money saver.

The End is Near

This is my last month as a sophomore. Yes, I know it’s not very dramatic; I’m not graduating or starting a new chapter of my life or anything of that tear-inducing, life-changing sort. But I am terrified. This designates that I will have finished half of my undergraduate college experience and will have to start preparing for internships, jobs, career choices, and post-undergraduate plans. That’s all extremely scary to me, so rather than thinking about that, I think I’ll just focus on something a little less scary – finals.

We’re in the middle of reading days. And right after that we have finals after finals after finals. Whether that means staying up all night to finish a 15 page paper or trying to figure out whether to tackle Orgo first or Physics or Chemistry, one of the biggest parts of finals is learning how to best prepare for these essential two weeks.

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So rather than being like our buddy Spongebob here, here are some tips on how to organize yourself for finals so you’re not staring at a blank word document for five hours straight and calling it “progress”.

  1. Calendar Calendar Calendar.

I cannot emphasize how near and dear I hold Google Calendar to my heart. I have all of my finals color-coded red so I know right away when a final is while final papers, group project submissions, or review sessions are different colors so I can look at it super quickly and know what to expect. I also have a physical desk calendar with important dates on it as well, and that may seem a little excessive, but when I sit down at my desk ready to prop open my laptop and binge-watch Gilmore Girls, my little calendar on my desk menacingly mocks me. So I stop, hide my laptop, and pull out my Management textbook instead.

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Sample Google Calendar

2.  Don’t try to tackle everything together.

You will just end up looking like the above picture. Instead, using your newly picked-up organizational skills via your calendar, divide your week and divide your day into sections. Maybe designate the first reading day to studying your hardest subject and figure out your weaknesses in that topic so you can hone in on those areas later. Break up the next day into working on a paper or a project, taking a mid-day break, and then studying from a textbook. Change it up a little so you’re not just staring at a book the whole day, but make sure you have a plan, and more importantly, make sure you stick to that plan.

3. Change up the scenery.

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Freshman year, I used to think that if I exiled myself into my dorm’s silent lounge for the entire day, I would be my most productive. Boy, was I wrong. Rather than focusing for hours straight, I would start counting the holes in the ceiling or wonder how many years the carpet had been there. Being in a monotonous room for hours just made me unfocused and desperate to leave, so my mind would always be elsewhere. So I started switching up my study places. First of all, I chose to leave the dorm because it was so close to my bed, to my friends, and to my food: all very tempting distractions. I ended up studying often at Sage Library, the Zimmerli Art Museum, and Starbucks. Starbucks was a clear winner for me because I am someone who cannot study in complete silence; I need a little bit of bustle. And coffee. If you’ve met me, you know my blood is mostly composed of caffeine.

But try out new places, ask your friends for suggestions, and see what kind of environment works best for you. Some people need to be in complete silence when working–for that I recommend finding a library on your campus or even going home for the weekend/week to study. But if you need a little bit of noise, find a coffee store or go to the dining hall. I personally studied for every Physics exam at Livingston Dining Hall, with a calculator in one hand and a burger in the other. No regrets.

4.  If available, take practice tests.

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If your professor has given you practice tests or you have quizzes in a class or even if you were able to keep your old exams, I highly recommend going through them. Not only will they help you figure out what to expect, but they will let you hone in on your weak spots so you’ll know how to manage spending your time.

5. Get plenty of rest.

All-nighters are not a study technique. Look up any article or any study done on all-nighters and they will all tell you the same thing: they’re not effective. In fact, your brain retains information best when sleeping. So get sleep, stay hydrated, and don’t hurt your body. If you follow all of the tips above, pulling an all-nighter should not even be an option.

With that, I wish you all the best of luck as we approach the last of our finals. You can do this, I believe in you!brace-yourselves-1gzq5me

Hidden Tunnels ‘Round Busch Campus

So… I lied. They’re not actually hidden nor are they tunnels, but they do escape most people’s notice. And they’re perfect to use if it’s cold or raining and you really don’t want to walk outside. This pathway that I’ve managed to carve out–with the help of various others–is what I use when I really don’t want to brave anything in the wilderness that is Busch Campus (and outside). Admittedly, it’s not helpful to get you to ARC (Allison Road Classrooms, for those who don’t know what building this is), but it’ll lead you to the Hill Center bus stop, Physics Lecture Hall, and SERC (Science and Engineering Resource Center).

If you walk around Busch campus, you’ll notice that there are some connecting hallways between buildings; these are key to the pathway. Below, I’ve put together a slideshow that’ll lead you through the maze. I hope it helps!

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There Is No Finish Line

Over the past three years, I have occasionally made it out for a run, but most of the time it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Or an attractive one. I did enjoy trips to the “river path” (Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail), where I took a few snapshots of the seasons. I am ashamed to say that I put more effort into taking these pictures than I did into the actual runs. Despite my effort, they did not even come out that well, but they should give you an idea of how beautiful the tow path is.

IMG_7665 IMG_7666My whole life I have been of the opinion that nobody “actually” likes running. I am a distance swimmer at heart. Running always seemed painful and sweaty and never really appealed to me. I think that Parks and Rec adequately summarized this point of view, which was undoubtedly shared by many of us.

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That being said, I have always wanted to finish a triathlon. I have also always been impressed by people that can just go out and enjoy a run everyday. For these reasons, I made it my goal this summer to learn to tolerate running–I challenged myself to thirty days of what I thought would be endless torture. Not for distance, not for time, but to become comfortable with the idea of huffing and puffing while moving my legs really fast on the ground. For me, this was a big step. I would like to share what I’ve learned, in case anybody else is interested in doing something similar.

After my 30 days, I continue to go out on runs several times a week. I feel great, I incidentally lost “finals weight” (no thanks to you, Hansel and Griddle banana flip smoothies), I am madly in love with our beautiful school and community, and I find that I look forward to my runs. When I run I clear my head and relax. Even just 20-30 minutes between my job and homework is immensely satisfying and improves my mood. Now I look forward to increasing my speed and distance! It took a few weeks to form the habit and now I can’t get enough.

There are so many things you can experience if you just get out the door. You become conscious of the community you’re living in. You become a part of this new mysterious group of people- the “runners” that “actually” like running. If you run through parks, you start to notice the animals. Turtles, deer, beavers, foxes, turkeys… You watch the seasons bloom. You start to plan to see sunsets and sunrises. Not to mention that this is the only body you have–you might as well nourish it, take care of it and challenge it.

WHY: BENEFITS OF RUNNING

  1. Sometimes it feels like your life is spinning out of control. Maybe you’ve got too much to balance, too much to handle, too much to study. I find that even a half hour run in the middle of my day relaxes me, helps me think and motivates me to study harder, work harder, get more stuff done!
  2. Running strengthens your immune system, prevents high blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health, and improves your sleep quality. Running is also linked to neurogenesis–neuronal cell formation–which is important in memory formation and learning. Instead of pulling an all nighter and cramming all day during finals, get a full night of sleep and take breaks to exercise. You’ll be more efficient while studying.
  3. Unfortunately life isn’t a pool and you can’t swim to class. But you can run just about anywhere and you don’t need any equipment (except good sneakers that won’t hurt your feet). This is a form of exercise that you can do anywhere at any time–free of charge.
  4. Fun 5ks. Rutgers has many of these throughout the year–color run, mud run, big chill, glow in the dark…
  5. There is no reason that you can’t fit in half an hour of exercise in your day. There is no excuse. Your brain, your body and your future self will thank you.
  6. Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins. Running makes you happy. This is the science of happiness. Go and grab some for yourself. It will also boost your confidence and every time you achieve a new goal you’ll feel a surge of pride!

WHERE: PLACES AT RUTGERS

  • Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail (you won’t get enough of this place, I promise)

River Path

  • Buccleugh Park

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  • Johnson Park

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  • Cook/Douglass

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  • Ecological Preserve
  • Explore, explore, explore!

MOTIVATION IDEAS

  • Find a friend to run with. Running with my best friend made an average day into one of the best I’ve had at Rutgers.
  • Make it an adventure–for example, run to the zoo in Johnson Park to feed the friendly pony a snack. Then you’re stuck because you’ve got not choice but to run back. (Yes, Rutgers has a little zoo)
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My New Friend

  • Go to sleep in your running clothes (not sneakers). I thought this was ridiculous at first, but when you wake up in your running shorts man do you feel motivated.
  • Make it a date… unless you’d rather not present yourself in that way in which case you can…
  • … make it a bet. Challenge yourself. Challenge your friends. Hold each other accountable.
  • Follow a bunch of fitness Instagrams, Tumblrs and blogs for extra motivation!
  • Make a delicious meal before you go running, so you can eat it as soon as you get back. Hopefully your housemates won’t eat it… =(
  • Buy new running clothes. Break them in.
  • Remember that you won’t ever regret exercising. What you do today will add to your progress. A week from now you’ll be happy that you started today.
  • Create running playlists… listen to audiobooks… listen to lectures… (or the new Alesso album, to each his own). I’m always motivated to go on longer runs when I’m listening to an amazing new album.
  • Plan to watch sunsets and sunrises.
  • Watch House of Cards, be motivated by Claire Underwood’s morning runs, get your life together.
  • Even if it’s the last thing in the world you want to do, put on your running gear and sneakers. Go outside. I find that the motivation to get out of the house is the hardest part. Take it a small step at a time. Most of the time when you’re already outside, the motivation will follow.
  • Most importantly, exercise because you love your body, because you want to nourish it and take care of it. Exercise to challenge yourself and to keep your heart and brain healthy and happy.