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.
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).
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.
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….
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.
So as members of the SAS Honors Program, we need to do two Honors Colloquiums or an alternative. And there are a lot of alternatives. This past semester I took part in a relatively new one: a one credit Pass/Fail course called Great Short Reads.
So, you ask, how was it? Should I take it?
The answer to the first question is highly enjoyable and to the second, as with much advice, is it really depends on you and your situation.
In short: If you have the time to read three novellas/short novels and enjoy not only reading but discussing and briefly writing about literary fiction, then yes this is a great alternative to another colloquium that has all your favorite things and free pizza.
The course is led by Professor Paul Blaney, who also teaches that course that goes to Ireland every spring. For the past semester, he picked our first novella, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, then the class voted on our second and third pieces, which ended up being Slaughterhouse Five and A Clockwork Orange, three incredibly different pieces in terms of style, topic, and genre that were fantastic, if somewhat depressing, reads.
For each of these, we read them, watched a movie adapting them, and wrote a short piece on the Sakai forums. Then, at the end of the semester, we had to write a short piece imitating the novels that could fit into the novel (essentially, we were told to write canon-compliant fanfiction for class). At each of the five meetings we held over the course of the semester, there was free pizza and everyone was generally into discussing the books. Overall, I liked it a lot more than colloquium and found the reading to be very rewarding and to be a nice change of pace from my other classwork. If you’re looking for summer reading, I would recommend any of these books (though maybe spread it out and read things that are maybe a little more optimistic in between each).
If you have any questions about the course or any summer reading recommendations, leave a comment 🙂
Have a great summer!
Also, since my last final is today at 4, enjoy this meme:
JUST DO IT.
This year was my first time as a Peer Mentor, through SASHP, for a first-year student, who I was paired up with based on similar academic studies and interests. We first met each other at the Peer Mentor/Mentee Summer Kick-Off event last June, which was really just the very beginning of our adventure together. As a Peer Mentor, I received the opportunity to guide my mentee through her first year here at Rutgers, helping her adjust to the transition from high school to a large university and to the many changes. We met at least once a month, and soon enough, we were friends! Here are my top three moments with my mentee, who we’ll call Melodia for this post:
3. The Awkward First Meeting
It’s always super awkward when you meet someone for the first time, isn’t it? Same case for when I had my first, official meeting of the year with Melodia! We met at Busch Campus Center, and even our initial greeting was awkward:
We walked to some couches in silence and then marched towards Moe’s to get Melodia some food. After we overcame the initial awkwardness, we proceeded to Phase 2: More Awkwardness. Most of this phase consisted of silence…awkward silence, during which we smiled at each other while carefully chewing on food. Phase 3: Some Conversation, began when we both realized that “people usually talk”; therefore, we…TALKED. We conversed about the first week of classes, our already busy schedules, the different classes we were registered for, and how we were liking them and our professors. It was clear that Melodia was sharp, excellent at time management, and adjusting well to the Rutgers environment. Our meeting ended with, “See you soon!” Overall, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be–not too much blood, sweat, or tears at all! Folks, here’s a lesson I learned from this first meeting: AWKWARD is NORMAL.
2. Session of Connection
For probably our second or third meeting, we decided to talk with each other at the new Starbucks at the Yard across from Scott Hall. This, my friends, was when we truly CONNECTED. By this time, the awkwardness had vanished, and we were already talking to each other with ease. That day, we were discussing how Melodia’s classes were coming along and any challenges she was facing. Somehow, we switched to the wonderful world of art and passionately lectured each other on literature, films, and creativity. Interesting lectures from both sides, I must say. Melodia exclaimed, “We have so much in common!” To that, I responded, “Can you believe that a whole hour has passed by?!” After some more chatting, I finished sipping my cappuccino (with three sugars) and we said, “See you soon!” I made my way to the train station, thinking to myself how awesome the day turned out to be.
1. Never Say Goodbye
All stories come to an end. All things have an end. But still, “Never Say Goodbye,” as a Hayley Westenra (one of my most favorite singers in this world) song title indicates. Although that song describes a romantic relationship, I can say that it applies to friendships as well. Just last week, I had my last, official meeting with Melodia, this time in three places–we were moving around a lot–including the Livingston Student Center, the Livingston Starbucks, and Sixteen Handles. I congratulated her on finishing an entire year at Rutgers. Freshman year: done. In this meeting, we talked about how Melodia had grown and changed for the better. I told her how I was proud of her for beginning to overcome her fear of sharing her work with others, specifically in a Creative Writing class workshop, during which she bravely listened to her classmates’ critiques and constructive feedback. I also congratulated her on something else…
SHE GOT ACCEPTED TO BE A PEER MENTOR FOR THE HONORS PROGRAM FOR NEXT YEAR!
I was thrilled and so very proud that she chose to apply. It warmed my heart when she said she gave it a shot because I was an inspiration for her, and that she also wanted to help an incoming first-year just as I had helped her. After about an hour, before I hurried off to Tillett to tutor and Melodia crossed the street to the Plaza bus stop, we, of course, agreed to definitely meet up throughout next year, because the end of my official role as a mentor for Melodia didn’t mean the end of my friendship with her. We told each other, “See you soon!”
So folks, if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, choosing to be an Honors Peer Mentor is absolutely the way to go!
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 Moonlight, Logan, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
1. A Button Making Station
Often times, a lot of Rutgers events will have dorky little arts and crafts type activities for people to do that no one usually ever does. At this event it seemed to be the button making station, or so everyone thought. At the formal, however, there was a long line of students all equally giddy to make buttons.
2. Guy in the horse head
During the dance, a random guy showed up on the dance floor wearing a horse head and had some pretty awesome dance moves. He definitely made the night a lot more interesting.
3. A whole new environment
The honors kids that you have seen hiding behind books at the library, staring at their laptops, and furiously entering numbers on their calculator all finally came out of their shell. I saw the people usually in Rutgers sweats and t-shirts with perfectly contoured cheekbones and crisply ironed dress shirts, all showing off their amazing dance moves.
4. Good Food
I’m not saying that the dining hall doesn’t have great food ;), but the food at the Heldrich was extraordinary. There were 3 types of dessert and all of them were amazing.
5. Dancing Deans
I think the best part was watching the Honors Deans bust a move. They all seemed so genuinely into it and were having a great time. They were also sweet enough to spare time to take cute Polaroids of us.
All in all, it was a classy event with some great food, great music, and great people. If you couldn’t make it this year I highly recommend you check it out next year!
If you’re in the honors program, you may or may not have heard about interdisciplinary honors seminars (if it doesn’t come across clearly, that is meant to be sarcastic). They’re really good for exploring different topics, interacting with interesting professors, and/or meeting honors requirements.
For a combination of the first and last reasons, I signed up to take ‘Shakespeare in the Now‘ this semester (though Professor Bartels is really awesome too!).
In regard to the first reason, I’ve always been really into Literary Inspired Web Series (LIWS), series on youtube that adapt works of classic literature. The trend started in 2012 with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and since then, many groups, almost all small clusters of passionate book nerds with cameras, have given it a try, adapting everything from Peter Pan to Jane Eyre to The Importance of Being Earnest, with mixed results (see a full list here). One of my favorite of these groups is The Candle Wasters, a group out of New Zealand. So far they’ve adapted Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour Lost, and Midsummer Night’s Dream, using the plays as a framework to explore many issues including sexism, gender identity, sexuality, dependency on technology, and climate change, all while still being incredibly entertaining and remaining surprisingly faithful to Shakespeare’s works. Because of this group, the idea of discussing the way Shakespeare can still be relevant today seems even more fascinating to me than it normally would.
As for the second reason: I need 3 more honors credits to stay in the program.
Anyway, the class is really interesting since we get to go and talk about reading and adapting Shakespeare for three hours every week and, even if LIWSes haven’t entered the conversation, it’s still an interesting way to frame discussions about modern issues.
Part of this is seeing different productions of Shakespeare’s works. In addition to assigned readings, we’re also supposed to watch different adaptations that are available from Rutgers’ Libraries, like Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. In addition to this, we got to go see a live performance of Hamlet at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, tickets and transportation paid for by the Honors Program.
And it was brilliant, fantastic, molto bene!
The performance was by a group from NYC called the Bedlam Theater Troupe. In the production, 4 actors play all the roles in Hamlet. If you’re unaware, that’s 20+ roles, one of which has the largest number of lines for a role out there, bouncing between 4 people. Still, they managed to make it work with minimal sets and some audience participation. All the actors were amazing and their interpretation managed to make a tragedy seem comedic for a large majority of the time. It provided us with a lot of things to discuss in class the next day.
Beyond the performances, the class also gained a new dimension last week when we discussed King Richard III and fake news. This week we’re going to discuss Measure for Measure, which will definitely be an interesting discussion about power, surveillance, and forgiveness.
Towards the end of the semester, we’re supposed to do a group project where we use Shakespeare to explore a social issue that interests us. I’m hoping my group will find the idea of something like a LIWS as interesting as I do, because, while this class is great so far, making one of those series would be a dream come true.
Since freshman year, I’ve read the SASHP Newsletter every week when it comes out. Often, there are a bunch of cool events and/or opportunities that I would love to try, but often there are schedule conflicts.
However, in one of the first few this fall, there was an announcement for an internship in the Health and Clinical Medicine Department at the Rutgers University Press. As someone with a heavy background in both biology and grammar, this seemed to be a perfect way to combine my bio and language knowledge in a unique way. Thankfully, it was perfectly timed to allow me to apply as well. I had just enough time in my schedule to squeeze it into my schedule.
So I sent in a resume and cover letter. Two weeks later I had an interview and I got the job. And honestly, it’s a really great experience(and I get paid!).
My internship is in the Acquisitions Department, which focuses on recruiting editors/authors, making sure that they submit their manuscripts on time, and preparing those manuscripts for editing and publishing. Mostly, I communicate with editors/authors and work on contracts and manuscript prep, plus any other miscellaneous tasks that my supervisor can come up with.
While that might sound boring, the array of books we work on makes it pretty interesting. We work on everything from textbooks to self-care manuals to books about advances in a particular specialty. They have editors and contributing authors from not only New Brunswick (i.e. Rutgers, RWJ), but from Chicago, Arkansas, Dublin, Athens, and Mannheim. And while the writing may at times be dry or formatted completely incorrectly, the topics are always diverse and range from epilepsy to cardiovascular health to ovarian cancer. Now we’re even working on some more unique volumes like a children’s book to help those with special sleeping issues and a medical school textbook that helps to teach psychology through film (mostly the one’s based on Stephen King novels).
All of which make the work, which is at times is boring, incredibly cool.
My supervisor is new to her position, having only taken it three months before I arrived, meaning we’re learning a lot of department procedures together. This is the third internship-type position I’ve had with someone who was relatively new to the position. It’s a situation that I think is beneficial if you’re just starting out in a certain workplace. Since the supervisor doesn’t have an established rhythm, you have the opportunity to work with them to mold the position into something that works for both of you rather than having to fill the shoes of a previous employee. That gives you a chance to do more or less or maybe just different things than others in your position, as long as your boss likes it.
For example, in this internship, I’ve not only managed communications with editors/authors, created contracts, and formatted/edited manuscripts like other interns, but have also done illustrations, helped develop proposals, and helped calculate budgets.
Overall, this has been a cool experience that has combined two things I have studied a lot of over my college career and has introduced me to a career field that I wouldn’t have even thought of otherwise. Thankfully, I read the SASHP Newsletter, otherwise I wouldn’t have found out about it.
It is truly unbelievable how fast time has flown by. Before leaving for Australia, I was playing this game called Cow Evolution where the aim is to collect different cows and evolve them into other ones. You earn coins and gems as you continue to play. Eventually, you reach a point where you can no longer evolve the cows. When that happens, you have the opportunity to restart the game and try to unlock the different cows again. This time, you get to keep the coins and gems earned in the previous attempt. During the first few weeks in Brisbane, Australia at The University of Queensland, I felt like a freshman again. I attended a new student orientation where I didn’t know anyone, was placed in housing with strangers, and was doe-eyed and excited to begin the semester in a foreign place. But, unlike freshman year, I was starting this semester with all the skills and knowledge that I gained from the previous years at university, similar to the gems and coins that carry over in new rounds in Cow Evolution.
The St. Lucia Campus, where ibis and bush turkeys roam abundantly, is gorgeous, especially the Great Court, which is similar to a bigger version of Vorhees Mall on College Ave. Enclosed by grand, sandstone buildings, it is a great place to rest in between classes. The pockets of construction on campus made me feel like I was still at Rutgers–just a little bit.
Every Wednesday, market stalls would pop up on campus and students could peruse through booths of handmade jewelry, clothes, and flowers. There was even an eyebrow threading booth!
A quick and easy lunch option was a sausage sizzle, which different clubs and organizations would have daily. This wonderfully simple sausage placed diagonally on a slice of white toast with optional grilled onions never failed to satiate my hunger.
Because UQ is a foreign university, I had to adjust to the different grading system and teaching methods. Most lectures, regardless of the subject, are recorded so students aren’t required to go to class. Recitations, or tutorials as they are called there, often aren’t required either. Whether attendance factors into your overall grade or not depends on the class.
In the first lectures of the semester, the teachers would pay respect to the aboriginal ancestors and to the land. Australian Aboriginals have a strong connection to the land and have this concept of turning a space–empty and foreign–into a place, which is familiar and full of meaning. Inhabiting an area and making memories in the environment is how to give it meaning and turn it into a place. Over the course of a semester, I’ve turned UQ, Brisbane, and even Australia, into a place, a home. It’s also what has happened at Rutgers: Australia was wonderful, but there is no place like home. And at the end of my six months, I was ready to come back to Jersey.
This experience will forever hold great importance in my life. Australia is rich in cultures and I have greatly enjoyed learning about them. The knowledge I have gained at UQ will undoubtedly stay with me into adulthood. The conversations I have had with other students at UQ and with travelers I have met on adventures have enriched my life and challenged how I view the world. I have come away from these five months with a different mindset, a strengthened sense of self, and a broader and more informed viewpoint on certain events occurring in the world. I feel different, a good different, and I know I have grown so much during this past semester.
I encourage you, if possible, to take that leap out of your comfort zone and study abroad. Or if that’s not possible, spend some time and live somewhere new for a little bit. It’s an experience you won’t regret.
These lyrics from Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” accurately describe my Spring Break. It’s always difficult, yet fun, to plan out activities for that week. For me, having been abroad, staying at my house in Brisbane was not the number one option. While friends and neighbors were going to New Zealand, Thailand, Fiji, or Bali, I chose to go to Fraser Island with my ecology class.
What’s Fraser Island, you ask? Why, it’s only the WORLD’S LARGEST sand island. I can tell that you are super impressed by this but Fraser Island is pretty impressive. Despite consisting solely of sand, this island supports a variety of vegetation, birds, reptiles, rodents, and mammals. When was the last time you saw a fifty-foot tree growing in sand and not soil?
Because I went here on a class trip, for me, the entire week was not all fun and games. Half of the day was spent doing field work, i.e. collecting data for a report due later in the semester. But the other half of the day was spent relaxing at one of the many beautiful lakes on the island.
Before stepping on to the island, visitors are reminded to be cautious of the wild dingoes that live there. While the dingoes are used to human presence, they should not be approached or fed.
We had to board this barge to cross over to Fraser Island.
Lake Birrabeen was the first lake we visited and made a great first impression for what the rest of the trip, relaxation-wise, would be like. The water was clear and refreshing but rippled from splashes from a game of keep-it-up.
This gorgeous burnt-orange-colored dingo posed for pictures near where a few of us were standing.
After a long hike identifying trees in the forest, we arrived at the most exciting lake: Lake Boomanjin. The water is clear but tinted red. The entire lake is reddened by the leaves that fall in, which contain a natural tannin similar to tea leaves.
We saw many, many different species of plants, including this Scribbly Gum, which gets its name from the scribbled trails that larvae make in the bark.
Of course big spiders are lurking in the forests. This is Australia.
A sand island wouldn’t be complete without a sand dune.
This is a strangler fig, which is also pretty cool.
There are plenty of beaches, lakes, and sand dunes on Fraser Island but there are also rainforests. Who knew that rainforests could survive in sand and in Australia?
Lake McKenzie was by far the most beautiful lake that we saw. One of the TAs took us to a special spot away from the other tourists. It was like we had our own little private beach on an island in the sun. The water was crystal clear and the sand was so white. It was a great way to spend the last afternoon on Fraser Island.
Although Fraser Island was one of the less adventurous Spring Break options, it still was a great option and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I went somewhere that not many people can say they’ve visited, and those kinds of experiences are part of what studying abroad is about.