How to get through finals season!

Yup! It’s that time of year again! Finals season is quickly (alarmingly quickly) approaching and I’ve decided that I’m really going to be on top of my game this semester! Here I’ll be sharing some of the things that got me through last semester and some things I hope to try for this one!


1. Sleep well! During the reading days, fix your sleep schedule to get at least 7 hours!

I know — so much easier said than done. But over the last month, and especially over Thanksgiving break, I’ve really messed with my sleep schedule. But in two weeks I’m going to have to wake up at 7 just to catch a bus in time for an 8 am exam so… let’s all make a promise to sleep on time and not miss any exams! Not only is it obviously good for your health in general, but having regular sleep patterns can help you focus more, make you less tired during the day when you definitely should be studying and can make you more productive!

2. Plan around what times you know you study best!

Going along with the last one, a helpful trick I learned during last finals season (and throughout the semester) was planning the hardest work for times when I am normally the most productive. So, even thought I might sleep at 12 and wake up at 8 to get some of my morning back, I know that, personally, I won’t be as productive in those first few morning hours as I will be later in the afternoon. Therefore, I’d schedule the easiest material to study during that time. Overall, less time is wasted!

3. Schedule breaks!

Either keep them short and frequent or long and further apart. I like to allot an hour or two in the middle where I can relax or watch something. It helps me regroup and calm down. Also, I partly use it as an incentive. So, only when I finish a certain amount of work will I let myself take a break. I don’t feel guilty while watching, and then I can set another goal of work to complete so I’m able to take another break!

4. Study where you study best!

I know it’s way easier to sit in bed but making the extra trek to where you study best can help you be more productive and can help make you feel less tired or bored. You can also meet some friends and study together– which is way easier outside your dorm.

5. Play music that helps you focus

You don’t need to study in silence but maybe don’t play that singalong throwback playlist either. I really like to listen to lo-fi music and there are great (very long) compilations on YouTube which always help me focus.

Good luck this finals season! Just an extra reminder to eat good meals, only drink coffee when necessary, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

Book Review Thursday: Warcross

Image result for warcross marie lu

Over the summer, I decided to binge read a bunch of YA novels I never had a chance to get to during the school year. One of the books I read was Warcross by Marie Lu. I loved the Legend trilogy so I had high hopes for this book going in, and it did not disappoint. The book takes place between New York City and Japan; it is set in the future where everyone plays and lives through a virtual reality game called Warcross. The main character, Emika, is a bounty hunter who glitched herself into the opening ceremony of the Warcross Championships. The creator of the game, Hideo, then calls her and gives her an undercover mission to find the security threat to the game. Emika is then launched into stardom as a pro-Warcross player. 

I really enjoyed this book. There was action, romance, and mystery. Because of the virtual reality aspect, it reminds me a little bit of the anime Sword Art Online. However, the game is not an RPG but more like an intense capture-the-flag game. I enjoyed Emika’s character. She’s very smart, and has a strong sense of justice. If you like strong female leads who are outspoken and determined, then this book is perfect for you. 

This novel really made me think about how technology will affect the future. I’m kind of worried that everyone will become like robots and live their lives not caring about the actual world but about what is going on in their virtual world. Will an immersive virtual reality be a thing in the future? Just some food for thought…

I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. I give it a 10/10.

The Artists’ Collective

A few years ago, under the guidance of Dean Nazario and a few students passionate about the arts, the SASHP Artists’ Collective was born.

Together, they created a community for anyone, whether it’s an artist or a student simply wanting to learn and be a part of something. With open arms, they’ve accepted and included anyone who walks through the doors of 35 College Ave.

They provide a space for those interested in art to meet and interact with others who share interests and a platform for student artists to display their work, as well as expose students to artistic works.

They hold general monthly meetings, Parisian-style salons, student art exhibitions, coffeehouses, writing workshops, dinners, and trips. Creative Writing, Music, Visual Arts, and more are featured. Nothing is off-limits.

Most people don’t always understand what the Artists’ Collective is anymore, especially since the originators and supporters graduated. It is simply a group that advocates for the arts and wants others to enjoy a truly creative and cathartic experience in their events and efforts.

The latest events include a coffeehouse, a writing workshop, and a zine-making workshop.

Zine-making Workshop

If you want to be a part of the community, all you have to do is show up to one of their events and talk to the members because all they want to do is make art or help you make art.

It’s a place to let go, forget about upcoming assignments and responsibilities, and just meet new people, learn new things, and be creative in every medium.

Coming up in the Spring, we have a few signature events planned, like an Acting Workshop with renown NY acting teacher Susan Rybin, and more opportunities to perform at joint coffeehouses and write your heart away.


But for now, you can catch their next meeting on November 8th at 35 College Ave from 1:30-2:30PM, where Halloween and Thanksgiving activities will take place along with free candy and learning all about the Artists’ Collective and how to get involved.

For more information, follow their Facebook page:

The Magic of Mentorship

Having a mentor truly opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and the best part about having a mentor is that you get to tailor your experience to your own needs. If you’re a freshman who just started college, a mentor can help you explore majors and find clubs to join. If you’re a senior searching for a job, you can ask your mentor for interview tips. Even beyond college, a mentor is there to help you continuously learn and grow – and that’s the magic of mentorship.

No matter who your mentor is, you have the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with him or her, and you’ll be able to refer to all of the advice you’ve received as you progress through different stages of your life. You can even have different mentors who help you with different things, like learning a new skill or adjusting to a new job.

Throughout my time at Rutgers, I’ve been involved in so many mentorship programs. That’s one of the things I love about Rutgers – you have so many opportunities to learn from those around you. The very first program I was involved with was the SASHP Peer Mentor Program, which pairs incoming Honors students with sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Before I even got to Rutgers, I felt so much more relieved knowing that I had someone who I could reach out to if I ever needed advice or had a simple question (like how to navigate the Rutgers bus system). As a naive freshman, having a mentor who was in my shoes just 3 years earlier made my transition to college that much easier.

During my sophomore year, I got involved with the Road to Communication and Media (RTCM) Mentorship Program offered by the Office of Career Exploration and Success (formerly University Career Services). Now that I had an idea of what I wanted to study (marketing), it was time to take the next step and actually learn about the industry. The Office of Career Exploration and Success actually offers numerous Road to Industry Programs, but RTCM was the one that fit my interests the best. What I loved about this program was that all of the mentors were Rutgers alumni, so no matter who I got matched with, at least I would have something in common with them. Having an alumni mentor who actually works in the industry I’m interested in was so helpful because it made everything seem so real; there’s more to marketing than what I learn in the classroom.

By the time I became a senior, I had been a mentee several times. After experiencing so many different programs, I decided that it was time for me to actually be a mentor, so I signed up through Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Business Honor Society. A few weeks later, I found out that I was paired with not one, but two freshmen from RBS. So far, it has been a great experience being on the “other side” of mentorship, and it’s been so rewarding to give back to my community.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and experience the magic of mentorship!

The Punniest Halloween Costumes

Need a last minute Halloween costume? Try one of these pun-derful ideas:

  1. Party Animal – The best part about this costume is that you can be any animal you want! Not a dog person? You can be a cat!

2. Holy Cow! or Holy Guacamole! – Holy cow, you’ll definitely win the costume contest with one of these ideas!

3. Smart Cookie – Hey, we’re all in college for a reason, right? Show off your brains with this delicious costume idea!

4. Candy Rapper – What else are you going to do with all of your leftover trick or treating candy?

5. French Toast – It’ll almost be like you’re actually in France! …almost

I hope some of these ideas were helpful! Have a spooky and pun-filled Halloween!

Climate Changed: Why Graphic Novels Matter

Last semester, I read a book titled Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni. This was one of the few graphic novels I’ve read, but like those I’ve read before, I was amazed by its captivity and value of information through pictures. 

The book, which follows the author’s journey in learning about climate change, combines scientific data and developments with his internal struggle to accept the true severity of climate change. It’s the author’s thorough account of this personal struggle which attracted me most and prompted me to share the book with anyone who cared to listen. 

Seeing images of his personal struggle affected me much more than if I were to read about them. Everything from his depiction of cars in traffic to his drawings of how nature looked in the past were powerful in drawing sharp distinctions between the past and future of our environment. He often refers to the past as a dream that we aren’t willing to let go– and presents this through visually showing the reader that the world is no longer the same.

In my opinion, the power of graphic novels to build on stories through images is often ignored. Readers recognize this purpose but it’s easier to see the imagery as a way to make the information more interesting and digestible rather than valuable on its own. While it’s true that the book was easier to read and enjoy because there were pictures alongside facts, the pictures themselves tell key aspects of the story which would be missing if it were all in words.

I realize as I’m talking about how much I love graphic novels, I myself have only read a handful. Even though I’m always very satisfied when I finish one, my mind automatically goes, “Okay time to read a real book now”– which is totally unfair to the author on so many levels. But I always saw graphic novels as part of a different category and unable to truly tell complex stories. What’s interesting about them is that maybe in a way, they are “other.” They combine different forms of media uniquely and allow the reader to draw multiple conclusions by thinking over imagery and placement. They don’t fit my old definition of a novel but that’s not as important anymore. 

I’m not trying to convince anyone to give up reading traditional novels forever and I’m not saying that graphic novels are better. But I think it’s important to include them in our selection when deciding what to read because they can tell special stories in a way you might prefer! Anything that keeps us reading!

Hidden Gems: Music Edition

Hi guys! My name is Rachelle Cha and I am a new SASHP blogger. I figured that for my first post, y’all could get to know me. There’s no better way to get to know someone than through their taste in music! I enjoy listening to a lot of smaller indie bands. I guess I could consider them indie-rock-ish? I just consider myself someone who listens to good music!

I’ll introduce you to my current top four bands – my hidden gems 🙂

First up is Mt. Joy! Prior to this month, I only knew one song by them. When I hit shuffle on my “Liked Songs” playlist, I recently ran into Julia by Mt. Joy. This prompted me to listen to the artist more and I fell in love with them! I especially like the song “Silver Lining.” It’s their most played song on Spotify. The band has a slight folk-ish vibe. If you’re a fan of the Head and the Heart or The Lumineers, you will probably like them!

Next up is the band that started it all, Peach Pit! One day, I got tired of listening to pop and rap. I really wanted to try something different. I wanted to be ~quirky~. I think Peach Pit by Peach Pit was on my Discover Weekly and I fell in love. I couldn’t stop listening to their EP! I know that they are more well known these days but Peach Pit is not mainstream yet. I think I’d consider them more rock-ish. I recommend every song on their EP and album. They actually just finished recording their second studio album. I’m super excited for when they release it. Peach Pit is a must!

Next up is The Walters. They’re like of like Peach Pit but doesn’t have the full rock thing going on that Peach Pit has. The Walters are definitely more pop so if that’s more your style, I recommend them. “I Love You So” and “She’s Gonna Leave You” are my top two favorites. I listen to The Walters when I’m really happy. 

Last but not least, Summer Salt. This band is a lot more indie™. They have the type of vibes that would make you automatically think of indie music. This is the type of music that is perfect for a nice relaxing day on the beach. I could totally picture myself by the shore with a light breeze blowing and the sun beaming when I listen to “Driving to Hawaii.” Some other great songs by them are “Honeyweed” and “Revvin’ My Cj7.” This duo is definitely more peaceful than the other bands that I listed but I love them just as much.

So those are my band recommendations! I do still like rap, pop, and other mainstream music but indie has a special place in my heart. Hopefully this gave some insight to who I am as a person. 

Thank you for reading!

– Rachelle 🙂

Book Review Thursdays: The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have been reviewing almost every book I read since March of 2016, when I was a junior in high school. At first, I only posted my reviews to a site called Goodreads, which is essentially a social media site based on rating and reviewing books. In August of 2016, though, I started my own book review and writing blog called Books Writing Happiness, and I’ve been posting my book reviews to both Goodreads and my personal blog since then. In the last year or so I’ve had the opportunity to read advanced reader’s copies of books (often abbreviated as ARCs), which means that publishers give me a (usually digital) copy of the book to read and review months before release day; I recently read the new Adam Silvera book that comes out in January, which is pretty cool. If anyone is interested in how that whole process works, I’m more than happy to write a future honors blog post about it!

The Infinite Noise is one of the books I had the opportunity to read before its release day – I read it back in April, and it was officially released on September 24th. It is the first of a series of books in the same universe as a sci-fi fiction podcast called The Bright Sessions, which is about a therapist named Dr. Bright who treats patients with supernatural powers, though you can absolutely read this book with no knowledge of the podcast. This book focuses solely on Caleb Michaels, an empath, and Adam Hayes, the boy he falls in love with, and the narration alternates between their perspectives.

Fun fact: I wrote a paper about this podcast for a class called Serial Storytelling last fall! Ask me about it; I’m very proud of it : )

Anyway, without further ado, here is my review!

For the most part, The Infinite Noise follows the timeline of the podcast and how Caleb and Adam develop as both individuals and as a couple during that time. Since The Bright Sessions is an audio drama, I was curious to see how the world and the characters within it would translate into a novel format since the medium in which a story is told has a significant impact on the overall narrative. Lauren did an incredible job of preserving the air of mystery that the original podcast has while introducing a lot more of Caleb and Adam’s individual thoughts and feelings as the narrative perspective switches between them. The novel definitely allowed for more room for backstory for both characters that the podcast doesn’t include, especially because Adam doesn’t get his own episodes until the later seasons.

The Infinite Noise took all of the adorableness of Caleb and Adam’s relationship from the podcast and multiplied it by a hundred. Seriously, I didn’t think they could get any cuter than they already were, but somehow, they do. I was a bit surprised at how little of an appearance the other characters make in this book; I’m so used to the episodes centering around each of the characters in turn that it was an interesting change to focus on just two. Caleb and Adam are two of my favorite characters from the podcast, though, so I really can’t complain too much!

Overall, I absolutely loved The Infinite Noise and I am so proud of Lauren Shippen for writing and publishing her first novel!! I highly recommend both the book and the original podcast : )

An extended version of this review was previously posted on Goodreads and my blog.

Kids on Broadway and how we can learn from them

Ever since I was little, I have witnessed kids become more hard-working than the adults in my life. In fact, I was one of them. I basically grew up in show business with kids, with my mother the owner of an acting school for Latino kids and teens in New York. I would go to auditions all the time, do voice-over work, and write for and help teach at the acting school on the side. Needless to say, it consumed my life in the best way, and it is still a big part of my life to this day. After all, that’s how I discovered my love for music and became a singer-songwriter.

Yet, as I grew older and started working with younger kids, I noticed a difference between the energy I currently have and the energy a child has. I started to wonder how kids in show business keep up with the work, and how I was able to keep up when I was their age. I became one of those adults (even though I’m still young myself) who says that children should have more energy and stamina because they’re younger. That’s how I would reassure myself that it’s okay to be lazy or exhausted every now and then.

But, it still fascinated me how excited these kids would get, no matter the project. It always seems to be that kids usually don’t feel like they are doing work at that age. They have energy because they are having a blast being kids and finding enjoyment in everything they do. Even if it includes long, difficult hours. They find a passion in it.

Shouldn’t we be able to find enjoyment too in everything we do? How can we rediscover that ignorant bliss that allows us to complete endless hours of work and find ways to become excited by it? I know this could turn into a whole philosophical, psychological dilemma and that it’s unfair to compare children to adults, but maybe it just takes a change in perspective. Maybe we’ll have more energy if we look at work their way.

Kids on Broadway are the hardest workers I know, and they have fun every step of the way. Below are two students and clients from Rybin Studio of Drama, my family’s acting school, as examples.

Jesus Del Orden is a 13-year-old who has been on Broadway for 3 years already. He started out on Kinky Boots for 2 of those years, then moved on to fill the role of Young Simba on The Lion King. Broadway life for kids may even be more difficult than for adults because they have school on top of it all. Jesus has school during the week and tutors for when he has matinees, or shows in the afternoon. He has to be there every day 2 hours before the start of the show and report directly to hair and makeup, especially since The Lion King is such a costume-heavy show. He does homework in the dressing room when he is not getting ready or onstage.

Now, that may seem like a lot, but he has reassured us many times that it is the most incredible experience of his life, especially with the people he gets to meet who make appearances or even perform alongside him, such as Brendan Urie, Cindy Lauper, Taylor Swift, and more.

Jesus signing playbills for Kinky Boots

Child actor Angel Romero, Me, Brendan Urie, manager Susan Rybin, and Jesus Del Orden

Sophia Rodriguez is a 4-year-old who started her Broadway career young when she booked the role of Lulu in Broadway’s Waitress, playing the main character’s daughter, who is currently Jordin Sparks. While she doesn’t have school to deal with, what normal 4-year-old has to report to work every single day? When I went to see her, she took me backstage and gave me insight into what she does when she’s not onstage: play with toys. In fact, she’s having the time of her life, on and off-stage. She called Jordin Sparks her stage mom and personally introduced me to her as Sophia #2. It is so beautiful how unaware she is that this is a job and that she’s spending most of her time at work. I guess it’s the parent’s job to worry about that while she continues to make up stories with her dolls before they call her onstage.

Backstage with Little Sophia
Jordin Sparks

While Broadway is a dream for most singers, actors, and performers, it is still a lot of care, work, and packed schedules. Jesus barely has time to breathe with school, the show, and the events he constantly is invited to attend due to his Broadway stardom. But no matter how exhausted he gets, he still looks at it as play rather than work, as fun rather than responsibility, as part of his life rather than a limbo of things he has to do to live.

Again, I ask, why can’t we learn from the children around us as well as the adults? Can we find enjoyment in the responsibilities of every day life? How would we feel if we had 8 shows a week and school to attend to all at the same time? Would we survive like they do? Many our age do.

I say anything’s possible if we look at it through the eyes of a child. Go to class. Do the 70 pages of reading due tomorrow. Kill that class presentation. Write that thesis. Finding at least a sliver of passion in everything we do.

Jesus and Sophia certainly have it covered.

Sophia Angelica Nitkin

A Friday in New York City

Hello everyone and welcome — or welcome back — to Rutgers! Even though the semester just started, I already feel like I am swamped with work, applications, and just STUFF to do. So when my friends suggested going to New York for the day, all I could say was yes! I’m going to be sharing a great day I had in the city and hopefully, I can give you some inspiration for your next trip there! 

(Disclaimer: Some things I mention below can be expensive but I promise to be honest about the prices and what I thought was worthwhile!)

  1. A Quick Train Ride and We’re Off to the Artechouse Exhibit

It was pretty simple: One of my friends found out about the Artechouse exhibit, we all watched some cool promotional videos, and then decided WE HAD TO GO. Artechouse is an exhibit, located in a revamped boiler room under Chelsea Market, which combines art and technology. They have a few other locations in the U.S. and opened in NYC on September 6th. Originally, the exhibit was meant to be a pop-up (and was supposed to last until mid-November) but it looks like they opened up more dates on the website!

We bought our tickets online and booked a spot ahead of time, but once we arrived, we noticed that some people were buying their tickets on the spot. (I would recommend buying them online if you’re planning on going– as more people learn about the exhibit, some slots could be sold out!) Each ticket was around $24 and we were able to use a student discount.

Inside, the exhibit is essentially one giant room with various images and visual effects projected on the walls. (They do talk about how there is a really specific algorithm that went behind selecting certain images, which I thought was pretty cool too!) There’s also a small bar with carefully curated (and overpriced) mocktails, but if you’re willing to spend $8 for a drink, they definitely looked good!

The exhibit itself was not exactly what we expected. As I mentioned before, it was one giant room with projections. While it was cool and disorienting to be in the room, don’t let the pictures online fool you! Some of their other exhibits in Miami and D.C. seem to be larger and more developed, as well as interactive, whereas the one in New York is more simple in its layout. Still, we all watched the cycle repeat a few times and were able to hang out, take fun pictures, and just enjoy talking about the art. Here are some pictures we took!

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Overall, the experience was really fun but I’m not sure it was worth the money! Most things like this will be pretty expensive in New York, so I wasn’t too shocked by the price, but I’d like to see how/ if this exhibit develops in the future. That being said, I think the idea behind the exhibit is very interesting and the exhibit is definitely something to keep in mind if you’re in the city and want to try something new!

2. Time to Eat at Rin Thai

Eating was our first priority once we left the exhibit. We were running a little late for the time we booked for the exhibit and didn’t get a chance to eat before, so as you can imagine, we were basically down to eat anything. All of us happened to be craving some Thai food and Rin Thai wasn’t too far from Chelsea Market! (Warning: when hungry, any distance is in fact, far.) But we made it in one piece and were super excited to order. In total, we ordered 3 appetizers and 3 entrees to share with the group. The food was amazing and super flavorful. Also, three out of four of us are vegetarian, including myself, and I was happy to find that almost all the options were easy to substitute or select as vegetarian. The total was around $72 (tax and tip included). I know, this sounds like a lot (because it is) but we split the bill evenly 4 ways so each person paid around $18, which isn’t too bad for a satisfying meal in the city.

3. Time for Some Dessert

After finishing up at Rin Thai, we were all craving something sweet. Three of us decided to get some Nuts 4 Nuts (if you don’t know, these are basically small bags of warm honey roasted nuts and they’re pretty cheap.) We also decided to get some bubble tea and ended up in Korea Town. I wish we could’ve stayed longer since K-Town is always so full of life and there is so much yummy food to try! But we finished the night off by getting a Lychee Black Tea with Lychee Jellies and Bubbles from Kung Fu Tea; it was about $4 which is a pretty standard price for bubble tea.

Overall, our trip to the city was a really nice break from classes and I can’t wait for the next one!