How to Study…

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a stuffed Thankgiving. Get it? I am so lame. Anyways, this week I thought I would share with you some of my study tips and methods because, sadly, finals are only a few weeks away! Now, I am aware that not everyone (ahem, me) starts studying for finals until well, a few days before (or the night of). Whenever you study and whatever you study, here are some things I find are helpful to do to ace an exam.

  1. Flashcards

Now before you roll your eyes and say “been there, done that”, hear me out. The key to using flashcards to study is not have a million to flip through when you’re already on the verge of a mental breakdown from studying for twenty hours. I found that it was quite useful to only limit yourself to making a set amount of flashcards; only make flashcards for things you know you will forget. For example, make flashcards for key facts that are pure memorization. This could be pKa values (oh, Orgo), important dates, essential amino acids, enzymes, etc… Also to further minimize the number of flashcards, group terms together. For instance if all the amino acids are non polar, then try to put as many as you can on one card. Try not to write paragraphs or even sentences on flashcards. It also helps if you spend time really categorizing the flashcards so when you nearing the end of your studying (it never really ends), you can go over only the ones you still haven’t memorized by heart. Oh, and when I am saying flashcards, I mean classic WHITE index cards (not the hard-to-see dark colored ones or online Quizlet)!

2. Rewrite notes

I am sure you have heard many professors bring up the point that writing notes with a pen (or pencil) will ingrain the information better in your head. I cannot stress to you how much this is true! Try to take time to just rewrite notes and you will see that half the material is already going in your brain as you write.

3. Colorful pens and white paper

Believe it or not when you make notes in specific colors, and you go over them multiple times, on exam day, you may be able to recall a piece of information because it was in a specific color! No joke! An important thing to remember is not to go crazy when it comes to the colors. Please don’t use ten colors. I personally like using dark colors such as black or blue to write out my main notes. Then, I have a bright red to box, underline or write VERY IMPORTANT information such as key terms or concepts. You might want to use this color to highlight those hints that your professors drop in class about what “might” be on the upcoming exams. I also find it more fun to take notes on a white paper because you have so much more room and you can write however you want! It’s like your study canvas (again, lame I know).

4. Use images or animation videos

In many of my science classes, we talk about complex processes such as protein translation or aldol condensation. When there are a million steps involved, I often find it very helpful to just Google animations or even just images to simplify things. Reading the textbook (who does?) is sometimes harder because I personally find it more difficult to grasp complex processes by mere paragraphs and paragraphs explicating each step. Instead, scan and print out key images from the book or search them online!

5. Talk out loud

This may sound crazy and may be a bit harder to do when other people are around. However, this is also another way I found really helped me get the material in my head. Hearing yourself say the words out loud can further encode the information in your long-term memory (fancy terms but so true). See if you can find a room at the library or find an empty classroom to just……talk to yourself. Become your own study buddy.

6. Put your phone away

Now, I may sound like an annoying parent, but trust me, I get distracted by my phone a lot. It is not even that I am messaging people, but come on, who can resist taking a twenty minute break every five minutes to go on Instagram or play around with the Snapchat dog filter. Turn your Wifi off (and no cellular data!) and just keep your phone out of sight. You can only touch your phone to check the time….occasionally!

7. Don’t study on your bed!

As comfy as your bed may seem, it is not good a place for studying. Try to sit upright on a desk or at a table. Also, make sure you are in a well-lit place  because dim places may even make you a bit drowsy. Temperature is important too. You can’t study if you’re too cold or too hot, so try to study in an area with the right temperature. In addition, I try not to study in my pajamas. Even if I am studying in my room, I try (most of the times) to wear track pants. Be comfortable enough to study but not enough to fall asleep! It also helps if you don’t eat too many carbs or eat so much food that you go into food coma right before studying!

I hope these tips help some of you! Let me know if you have any tips of your own! Happy studying! Good luck on upcoming exams! You’ll do fantastic!

Advertisements

3 Ways to be Creative

Image result for patrick eating gif

Helllooooo folks! As we come back (to reality) from our Thanksgiving break, we may be at that point in the semester (or we were already there since Week 1?) when our brains have had enough. Need some me-time? Well, how about you relax and rejuvenate by engaging in fun, creative activities (and give Netflix a rest, maybe)? After all, November is International Creative Child and Adult Month! So here, you’ll find 3 cool ways to be CREATIVE! 

1: WRITE!!!

Image result for spongebob the gif

As a Creative Writing minor and just someone who loves writing in general, I guess I’m just a little biased in suggesting that y’all should write if you’d like to be more creative. I’m talking about poems, creative essays (NOT Expos haha), short stories, flash fiction, fan-fiction. Maybe even venture into the realm of writing a NOVEL! It’s definitely not easy to write–or to be creative, to be honest. But I think as soon as you forget what others might think about your writing–the whole judgment thing–writing becomes easier. Journalling helps, too, for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Overall, writing is a cathartic activity that can undoubtedly help you cope with the stress that comes with college–or life!

2: Color!

Image result for Color Me Stress-Free

Stress-relieving coloring books are quite popular nowadays. Apart from having intricate and eye-catching templates, they also help you hyperfocus on the activity of coloring, allowing your brain and you some breathing space. This type of activity helps you enter a relaxed state of mind and asks you to creatively decorate a picture that is half-done. You’re the other half that completes it, which is something that tells your brain: “This is worthwhile!” Coloring in these books can hone your art skills, too! Ever want to be the next Picasso?

3: Start an Instagram Account!

Image result for instagram

It is not uncommon for people around the world to use social media platforms, like Instagram, to showcase their creative talents. So, this is something you can take on to motivate yourself to channel your creativity! What is something your passionate about? Transform that passion into something that you can keep track of and market to the rest of the world. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to attain a certain goal. For example, several individuals out there create an Instagram account to solely track the progress of a project that they’re working on, like a novel. Each day or once a week–how ever many times they choose to post–they may upload quotes or scenes from their writing, or take pictures of objects and people that relate to their work. This is a self-esteem booster, as well as a way to share your talents and passions! Personally, I created an Instagram account–@4linespoetry–in which I can post poetry along with my own hand-drawn sketches or digital representations (using Adobe Illustrator) of the poem. Though it is challenging to manage the account with all of my other activities, it is still worth my time.

So, there you have it! Take risks, try something new! I promise that adding some extra creativity into your inexplicably busy college lives can ease the stress and worries! 

~Tanya B. 

Why Humans Love Negativity

Whether it is in the news or social media, negativity seems to be everywhere these days. Tragic incidents, accidents, celebrity bashing, roast challenges, you name it. While exposure to negative content is important and inevitable, it is the fact that humans love it that is interesting. We know it is bad, yet we cannot stay away from capturing or consuming it. Why?

It has been reported that there are about seventeen negative news reports for every positive one in the media. Evolutionary psychologists and neurologists say that because our brains evolved in hunter-gatherer environments, we immediately attend to anything dramatic and threatening for the sake of our survival.

Another explanation is the probability theory which suggests that the probability of unusual/tragic events happening in large cities compared to local neighborhoods is higher.  Becuase the media focuses on large-scale cities, the prevalence and distribution of negative content increase greatly.

Researchers find that a negativity bias exists in which people have a desire to hear bad news.  This bias exists mainly because people tend to believe that they are “above-average” and that the world is a much better place than it actually is.  Thus, when bad news comes out, they give it more attention.

The brain has increased sensitivity to bad news as opposed to good news. In other words, an insult stings more than a compliment, unpleasant feelings linger longer than positive/neutral ones, and bad news overshadows good news. Thus, despite the presence of all the good in this world, the negativity sticks out like a sore thumb.

In specific, I want to focus on the vastness of negative content online, mainly Youtube. Whether it roasting other Youtubers, hating on celebrities, or capturing another person’s pain, there is plenty of negativity out there. What is concerning is that these are the videos that trend and gain the most attention.  If a video is circulated rapidly on the Internet, it is defined to be viral.

In April 2016, a 16-year-old girl named Amy Joyner-Francis was beaten to death by three girls in a high school bathroom.  Dozens of other girls simply stood by and watched the violent encounter unfold.  Some even chose to record it, rather than intervene. Click here to read more about this incident.

How sad is that?! Is the chance to create a viral video worth risking someone else’s life?

Research shows that negative videos can become viral because they trigger high arousal emotions like anger and disgust. Videos bashing celebrities and capturing accidents/fights gain attention because of the immediate response the viewer experiences.

However, there is an incentive for positive videos as well. Another component in virality is dominance- when you feel in control of your emotions. For example, a high dominance emotion is happiness, whereas a low dominance emotion is fear. Thus, videos that elicit high dominance feelings, such as happiness, admiration, and love have been proven to trend.  Trending videos like “In A Heartbeat” and “Grace VanderWaal: 12-Year-Old Ukulele Player Gets Golden Buzzer – America’s Got Talent 2016” promote positivity and inspiration.

In the long run, creating positive content is far more impactful.  Think about it.  Once the short-lived relevance of a negative video dies out, it is quickly forgotten.  This is because negative content is solely remembered for its content, whereas positive content has a lasting impression.

And the misconception that it is impossible to trend without negativity is just false.  Whether it is #DamnDaniel, Gangnam Style, Watch Me Whip or Carpool Karaoke, these videos have managed to become viral without promoting any negativity.

It is impractical to hope that negative content will cease to exist because there will always be an audience for it. However, if people make an effort to resist watching and sharing these types of videos, then people will be less encouraged to record such content.  So, while it is tempting and difficult to focus on negativity, do not bash what you hate.  Instead, promote what you love.

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.

2dab8f71181071515ce12659110c648a.jpg

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).

290d2a835021e2a80050ab76d41d7b70--pet-lovers-breathe-quotes

 

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.

3249523-schedule-your-priorities-quote.jpg

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.

 

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!

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 10.03.40 PM

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

Image result for spongebob friends gif

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!

Image result for spongebob talking gif

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

Image result for spongebob jellyfishing gif

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

Image result for spongebob calling gif

Oftentimes, when semesters end, the friends you worked hard to make suddenly disappear. Now you guys don’t have classes together, don’t take the same bus routes, don’t live on the same dorm floor. Whatever the case may be, you still both have the ability to keep in touch. This is even more possible nowadays, with all the technology and social media that surround us. Make use of these tools! Once in a while, pop a text to your friend from last semester’s Literature class and ask how they’re doing. How are their new classes? How are their professors and the work load? Would they like to meet up? The last question may be a hard one to type out for some people. What if that friend doesn’t really want to hang out anymore? Of course, there are a lot of What If’s, but if you don’t try asking, how will you know the answer? Challenge yourself; give it a shot! 

***

Undoubtedly, friends you might’ve been close to for years may grow apart, for a number of reasons. That’s something difficult to go through, but it’s not the end of the world. Friends come and go. There are so many people out there for you to befriend. I’m not saying finding new friends will replace the valuable relationship you might’ve had with someone, but it definitely will give you hope that you do have people who care about you. You just gotta find them!

–Tanya B.

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

21235793-standard

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.

Rutgers_University_Art_Library

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.

Enter the World of Insects

In my last year at Rutgers, I wanted to challenge myself.

Step outside of my comfort zone. Confront my fears. Go WILD. 😎


So what did I do?

I signed up to take a class about insects.

200

Now I should clarify: I am one of the most squeamish people around. I flinch whenever a bug flies near me. My mom worries that one day my reaction to insects will give someone a heart attack. I scream when I spot an insect inside the house.

I think my fear of insects stems from the fact that there are so many different kinds with so many different appearances that it seems impossible to distinguish which kinds are harmful, neutral, or beneficial.


In the past few weeks, however, learning about insect classification, body systems, and behaviors, and even looking at pictures of insects of all shapes and sizes has given me a grudging appreciation for their evolutionary success and abundance, which according to Wikipedia, “potentially represent 90% of the differing animal life forms on Earth”. As much as I would like to ignore them, insects impact fields that include agriculture, medicine, forensics, and ecology. Yes, insects might “bee” creepy and crawly. They “bug” me. They make me want to “flea“. But in spite of all this, I gained a newfound respect for how diverse they are and how important entomology, or the study of insects, is. While my instinct may always to respond to insects with fear, a part of me now also admires how well the group as a whole has flourished over millennia. #respect


8421264889_f5dec63ce1_z

A couple of weeks ago, as I was getting ready for my 8:40AM class, I spotted a beetle like insect about the size of my thumb crawling on the windowsill in the kitchen. I ignored it, because ain’t nobody got time to deal with that at 8:00AM. When I came back from class, it was still there, trying unsuccessfully to climb out of the open window. Now normally, I would have left the creature alone, but this time I saw that it was missing a leg.

I’ve always felt bad for insects that I find inside the house who want to leave but can’t. Because once they’re inside the house, there’s only two routes: survive or die. When I can, I let them outside, but when I can’t, they either inevitably perish, or are killed.

This creature was one of those insects that was trying to escape by crawling on the window, with the outside world so tantalizingly close. After observing it warily for a couple of minutes and seeing that it didn’t fly (flying insects scare me so much more), I enticed it to crawl onto a sheet of paper where I set it free outside. A couple of days later, it happened again, during which I felt a small sense of pride at taking steps to “overcome” my fear.

However, I am currently barricaded in my room due to the presence of two stinkbugs (which can fly 😱) crawling on the living room window of the apartment. So I still have a long way to go before I actually overcome my fear.


Overall, I am glad I made the decision to step outside my comfort zone and take a class on insects. Knowledge is power, and by learning about what may be one of the most abundant groups of organisms on the planet, I am familiarizing myself to creatures that have since become less frightening. Yes the pictures on the slides gross me out sometimes, and my belief that insects can be dangerous has been confirmed, but by challenging myself to learn more about my insects, I not only became more knowledgeable, but also developed a sense of accomplishment at taking steps to overcome my fear. For all the readers out there who are afraid of something, I encourage you all to challenge yourselves and learn more about that something. Who knows? You may end up enjoying it.

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.