How to Start Packing Earlier

Finals week is quickly approaching, and the last thing that I want to do after finishing all of my exams is to spend hours packing my dorm room. Instead, I would rather see my friends one last time before summer starts and finally catch up on sleep. Maybe you live in a dorm and need to clear everything out the day after finals end, or maybe you are going to live in a different house next year, or maybe you are officially done with your time at Rutgers. Either way, packing is definitely not the best way to enjoy your time post-finals, so here are some ways to start packing earlier so that after weeks of intense stress, you have one less thing to worry about.

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Start By Throwing Things Out

I have so many random items I have collected from various on-campus events that I knew I would be throwing out even as I picked them up, and I have collected enough takeout menus and fliers for past events to fill an entire drawer. Your room will feel less cluttered, and it will be fun to remember the events and activities you partook in throughout the year.

Send Items Home If You Can

My parents will be visiting me at school this week, so I figured that I would send them back with items that I no longer need. The weather is (finally!) starting to look better, so I will be giving them all of my sweaters and boots. I will also give them notes for classes with noncumulative finals.

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Sell Items You Will Not Be Using Anymore

The earlier you post on Facebook groups and online for-sale sites, the sooner you will find someone to buy your items so that you do not have to stress about getting rid of them last minute (and so that you can get the best deals).

 

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Donate Your Clothes

If you have any clothes that no longer fit or that you know you will not be wearing anymore, you can donate them to the many local organizations that will readily accept them. You will have much more closet space and your clothes will be serving a much better purpose.

 

Good luck with finals! You got this!

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The Time I Spilled Water on My Laptop…

At the end of April, I spilled water on my laptop. 😱 Of course, my computer powered down a few seconds later, and I spent the next hour frantically googling “what to do if I spill water on my laptop” and panicking as I asked friends “what do I do if I spill water on my laptop?!”.

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Panicking

There was the suggestion of using rice to dry the computer (which worked), and using a fan to dry the computer (which also worked)— tips for those unfortunate enough to also spill liquids on their technology. For the next couple of days, however, I could only hope I would be able to recover my files and photos, which I, being the procrastinator that I am, had not backed up. (yikes!) And because I planned to submit my thesis that week, I needed my laptop to recover so I could retrieve my most recent draft.

While that week was stressful, going to the computer lab every time I needed to use Word and Powerpoint helped me realized several things about my relationship with the Internet and technology.

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Basically me, except I can’t whistle and had a lot more stress 👍

First, I learned to value having a fully functioning laptop. Before this, I never realized how convenient it was to be able to study and work anywhere I wanted. While I did have my phone for email, social media, and the Internet, which I am extremely thankful for, I couldn’t take notes on Powerpoint, write assignments in Word, or study as easily as when I had my laptop. And because I prefer looking at a computer rather my phone, I had to walk to the computer lab every time I wanted to work on my assignments.

At the same time, however, I also realized how much more productive I was when I didn’t have my laptop. Maybe walking to the computer lab gave me a sense of purpose, or maybe I wasn’t as distracted by the tabs I usually keep open, but every time I logged in I was focused and ready to work. Perhaps part of this was because I valued the time I had inside the computer lab more than when I had my laptop.

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Me in class

In addition, I also began to pay more attention in my classes. Whereas previously, I diverted my attention from listening to read and highlight the lecture slides, I began to put all my attention towards listening without my laptop or any printouts. I was surprised at how much better I understood the material when I stopped myself from looking ahead or from taking too many notes.

While my laptop has recovered (thank goodness), the experience forced me to acknowledge how much time I spend on the computer and to curb the gut reaction to use my laptop just to find something to look at. During that week, I became more efficient at getting work done and discovered how easily I could get distracted in class. I learned the importance of backing up all my files, and to not keep water bottles open near my laptop. This incident reminded me to appreciate what I have, to learn from my mistakes, and ultimately to re-evaluate how I use technology. What is your relationship with technology like?

Senior Year Reflection: Ankita Veta

As our amazing seniors get ready to graduate and take on the real world, they reflect on the marks they have made, the people they have connected with, and the experiences they have had during their time at Rutgers. Follow along for the highlights of their journey, as told in their own words. Congratulations Rutgers SASHP Class of 2018!


Dear SAS Honors Program students,

Congratulations! After years of squeezing ourselves onto packed LXs, lying to ourselves that a mostly-caffeine diet was okay, and one too many fat sandwiches from RU Hungry, we’ve come to the finish line.

Or so we tell ourselves, because we want to mark this significant period of growth and change by calling it an ending. But we also know that once we exit the stadium on convocation day, we enter the limbo between the ending of our preparation, and the beginning of action.

To be candid, it’s hard for me to remember my whole journey at Rutgers. Rather, what come to mind are snapshots of moments—sitting in the North Tower lounge in our new Rutgers shirts, listening to our RA explain Throwdown. Thinking to myself, “hey, Orgo isn’t actually all that bad,” and then taking that first exam. (Spoiler alert: it was a disaster). Chasing first-years down at involvement fair to tell them exactly why they should join my student organization. And to now— reflecting on a journey that is stitched together from these little moments.

As a photographer, I cherish these snapshots, because they tell a larger story. The moments that stand out to us do so for a reason—they represent the challenges that we have overcome, the growth we have experienced. The pictures that flash through your mind when you think about your time here at Rutgers are the ones that actually matter, not because they were particularly exceptional or unique, but because you chose to give them meaning.

But I have a question for you all—how many of those moments were ones that you planned? How many of those moments were ones that you expected?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from photography, capturing those fleeting moments between planned shots often makes for a more compelling story than the pictures I take with intention. Be it the shy smile of my friend in front of the lens, or the glow in their eyes, it is in these transient moments that I have found meaning.

Some of these moments came when I joined the executive board of my student organization, She’s the First, which raises money for girls who are the first in their families to get an education. On top of handling schoolwork, research, and other commitments, like many in this room, I decided to join this organization my freshman year. As a first-year, my eyes were filled with excitement, the desire to change the world, and the innocence that exists only until one sees the horror of textbook prices. I attended my first meeting in a small classroom tucked into the top floor of Tillet Hall, where we made posters to raise awareness about the power of education. Mine read: Girls + Education = Change. After four years of planning events, raising funds, and talking to students all over Rutgers about why this cause matters, I can say with conviction that change has happened. But not in the ways that I expected.

Of course, my heart filled with joy when we read letters from our young scholars each year as they talked about joining their town’s sanitation committee or teaching their parents what they learned in school. What surprised me most, however, was what I saw happen within myself. The moments that shaped me were not the ones in which I stood at the front of the room leading a meeting, but rather those in which I sat in the back, letting a younger board member take over. The snapshots that fill my head are those of students from another organization steadily streaming into our fundraiser, or when I used my voice to lift up my fellow students with an “I believe in you.” As a timid first-year, my desire to make an impact stopped at ideas, but these instances taught me how to start bringing those plans to fruition.

When I joined, I never thought to find so much value in these seemingly insignificant moments. Don’t experiences have to be of a particular caliber to be considered inspirational or life-changing? But, this accumulation of small experiences over time has showed me what a truly meaningful journey is—it is one that challenges you, changes you, and questions you. Despite the inhuman levels to which my heart rate rose when I stressed over planning an event or managing everything in my life, it was all worth it because I learned to lead through collaboration and support without inhibition.

We all have small moments like these that fill us with something larger than we could have expected. You could call it purpose, a sense of belonging, fulfillment—whatever the name, this is our fuel. This feeling? Hang onto it.

Because that is what will carry us from the end of this phase of our lives into the next. These little moments have prepared us, shaped us into the people that we will be.

Be it by mentoring other students, teaching FIGS classes, or travelling the world, all of us have made our marks on Rutgers. These marks are now just collections of pixels, but there is still a larger picture to be created.  So as we sit here today, I ask you: what are the snapshots that fill your mind when you think of your time at Rutgers?  Whose faces stand out to you from the crowd? What fleeting moments do you want to hang onto forever?

Let these answers carry you over the threshold to the future. Take the memories of your brownstone Honors hall that introduced you to your best friends as you step foot into your new office. Remember the professors, staff, and peers who guided you as you impart your wisdom on a trainee in the future. Keep with you those unexpected moments that you could have missed if you blinked, because they will open your eyes as you enter the operating theater, the business meeting, or the archeological site.

And along the way, take plenty of snapshots, because you never know when you’ll find a moment worth holding onto in between the clicks of your camera.

 – Ankita Veta

A Lesson from Thor: Ragnarok

By the time this post is up, the release of Avengers’s Infinity War will be only a day away!

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Over the past few months I have been re-watching the Marvel movies in anticipation for the new Avengers, and one of my top favorite movies is Thor: Raganarok. I felt a connection to this movie not only because it was hilarious, but because I felt like I could relate to one of the central themes of the movie. I’m sure most of you have already watched this movie, but in case you haven’t, I will be discussing spoilers 🙂

In this movie, Thor lost his hammer, his hair, and his eye.  These were all physical things that he thought made him the powerful person he is (well, the eye is an extreme example, but you get the idea). He thought that without his hammer, he would have less strength and be less capable of doing what he was able to do with it. He initially felt lost without his hammer, as if a part of his identity was gone with it. At some point in the movie, while Thor is doubting his abilities sans hammer, Odin asks him “Are you the god of hammers?” It was at that moment that he really realized that the hammer is just an object. It does not solely give him strength or unique abilities, as he has power within him. And he is able to do incredible things even without the hammer!

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This is what raw power looks like.

We all go through rough patches in life. Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we are disadvantaged or as if we are deprived, and are consequentially farther from reaching our goals. It is normal to feel less capable when we do not have the same resources as someone else has. But inside, we have the power to shape who we want to be. When we are placed into a tough situation, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects and on what is keeping us from moving forward, we should instead look at the positives. We all have the power to change a situation from bad to good, and half of that battle is our attitude toward the problem.

I think that this is important to remember as we approach finals well. I have noticed a lot of negativity swirling around in my classes (and I regret to admit that I also contribute to that cloud of sadness). We should all keep in mind that no matter lost we may feel, how many assignments may be piling up, or how many tests may be approaching, we do have some level of control over our outcomes. Instead of focusing our energy on negative things like how many days we have left before exams, or how many more topics we have to cover, its more worthwhile to find ways to boost our self-esteem and get things done. I realize that this is a stretch from the Thor lesson, but I believe that we all have strength within us. Negativity is like Thor’s hammer in the sense that it keeps us from recognizing our true potential. I feel like my thoughts were a little disorganized, but I really do think that Thor taught us a great lesson about taking advantage of our inner power!

 

Reflection

It’s that thing looking back at you in the mirror or a pond or a shiny spoon: your reflection! How much time do we actually spend reflecting—thinking about our past successes, failures, improvements, and memories? Well, in this post, I’d like to do just that and give you some advice to REFLECT!

1. Reflect on SUCCESSES

A lot of us focus our energy on what’s not working, what could be better, what we don’t have that others do, but more than once in a while, it’s also a good idea to focus on the positive things about ourselves! Think about your successes this past academic year. What have you achieved? Did you land a cool internship? Did you overcome an incredibly difficult class? Did you receive an award or scholarship? And of course, success doesn’t equate to only huge achievements. Small ones count, too! It’s all relative, anyway. Did you meet new friends? Did you try a new activity or club? Reflect on it and tell yourself that you ARE worth it!

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2. Reflect on FAILURES

I just told you to focus on the positive because more often than not we don’t, but…yes, readers, it is also important to reflect on your failures. I don’t say this as a method to bring your mood or self-esteem down; rather, I suggest it for just the opposite! Yes, that seems weird, doesn’t it? Buuuut…when you think of something that you weren’t able to quite accomplish this school year, it helps motivate you to try harder or simply try again the next time! Can you aim to get better grades next semester? Can you apply for other internships if you didn’t get into your dream place? Can you budget more effectively so that you’re a little less broke after the semester ends? Can you adopt an open mind so you can get more involved? Thinking about the mistakes you’ve made helps you learn from them, and thinking about your failures encourages you to set goals for the future!

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3. Reflect on IMPROVEMENTS

As students and humans, we are just so busy with doing the next thing and the thing after that, leaving us no time to reflect upon our improvements and progress in various areas of our lives! Take a moment to mentally–or physically by writing it down–measure how much you’ve improved this year. This can be in terms of as a student, a worker, a family member, a friend, a person–whatever roles you take in your life. Were you able to manage your time better this year versus another time? Were you able to learn how to work more effectively at your job? Were you more supportive of that friend who needed you? Measuring your growth is vital in helping you understand how far you’ve come and how much farther you’ll go.

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4. Reflect on MEMORIES

What is reflection without thinking about all those good times you spent with people who matter to you? Did you go to awesome events together? Did you go on a road trip with your friends? Did you host an awesome event for your organization? Bust out your phone and swipe through some fantastic pics immortalizing your memories and moments!

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What else do like reflecting on? Comment below!

Senior Year Reflection: Zoran Z. Gajic

As our amazing seniors get ready to graduate and take on the real world, they reflect on the marks they have made, the people they have connected with, and the experiences they have had during their time at Rutgers. Follow along for the highlights of their journey, as told in their own words. Congratulations Rutgers SASHP Class of 2018!


Allow me to tell you a bit about myself. My name is Zoran, I’m a senior here in the MBB department, and I generally like to think of myself as a scientist, or more colloquially, a nerd.

I’ve worked in a lab at Rutgers for about three and a half years now, and I’m always amazed at my colleague’s willingness to let me in the door because it seems like every other week, something terrible goes wrong with me at the epicenter. From losing important samples, to contaminating half our supplies with mold and even the occasional “controlled” explosion, I’ve had quite the adventure. However, it was through these “experiences” that I’ve learned how to think like a scientist, how to work like a scientist and most importantly, how to hold a grudge like a scientist.

It was a year or two ago at the urging of both my honors advisor and mentor that I applied for a grant through Aresty to attend a conference at Cold Spring Harbor. I was lucky enough to be a recipient and felt excited as freshmen on the first day of class. I came into the conference, ready to talk science and geek out a bit with my fellow bench nerds. I was getting ready to talk about my “super cool” results that I had collected over the past year, when suddenly, the “Arnold Schwarzenegger” of my field walked up to me and we began to talk. Needless to say, I was a tad bit outmatched. He quickly and decisively tore my work to shreds and left me standing there with a forced smile on my face and a bit of a broken heart.

So, like any other scientist I went back to the lab, brooded a bit, and through blood, sweat and quite a bit of spite, I refined my work, and patched up the holes. Now, two years later, I will be returning to that very same conference, locked and loaded, with work that we are about to publish.

As the saying goes, too much of a good thing is well… probably too much of a good thing. Being a fan of research, I was lucky enough to stumble across an internship in the city doing cancer research with a focus on computer science. Up until this point I was primarily a biologist, with almost no computer science background what-so-ever. I get into work on the first day and by the end of it I’m straight up ready to quit. I sat there as my mentor, bless his patience, flew between what seemed like four different screens of text, in what appeared to be some form of elvish. As they explained to me the basics, I kind of sat there as a child might listening to a lecture on quantum mechanics. The pretty pictures looked interesting, but I had absolutely no clue what was going on… Being a glutton for punishment, I returned the next day and for the following few months my experiences could best be described as outright disastrous. There was this time that I single handedly crashed the entire group’s server and bought myself a one-way ticket to IT. Think getting called to the principal’s office but about a bajillion times more intimidating. Shortly after, I ended up accidentally deleting 1TB of data. Imagine you’re feverishly writing your final report and your computer spontaneously combusts as you just finish your 12 millionth page… oh did I forget to mention it was single spaced? Interestingly enough, it was through these failures that I learned more than I could ever image when it comes to computing and will have the honor of mentoring two students this summer.

Moving into more universally painful territory, let’s talk Interviews! As many of you were, are, or will be doing, I applied to roughly a mountain of post-graduation endeavors over the past year. It seemed that every time I got an interview, I showed up, super excited, ready to talk science, but always seemed to hit a bit of a metaphorical brick wall when I heard those dreaded words: “So tell me about yourself”. I had my standard formulaic response ready, talking about how I was good at this, could do that and was getting ready to graduate Rutgers. I would always think, as this was happening, that I should’ve applied for a job at Nyquil because it seemed that within a minute I would take a fully alert and excited interviewer and send them straight to sleep. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  I brainstormed a lot on how to fix this and eventually I decided to flip things on their head and started talking, not about my successes, but about my failures, much like in this blog. What amounted was a more engaged and fun experience for both myself and the interviewer. The conversation flowed more naturally, and I better demonstrated who I was, through my failures rather than my successes.

And so, my parting advice to you is to go out and chase failure, and to fail, over and over and over again; and every so often you’ll stumble upon a happy little mistake that some might call. . . success.

 – Zoran Gajic

Happy National Grilled Cheese Month

So as I was facing writer’s block (a condition where you lose the ability to write and have any new or creative ideas), I stumbled upon an interesting post while scrolling through my news feed. April is National Grilled Cheese Month!!

And if anyone knows me, I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Ever since my elementary school introduced grilled cheese sandwiches, I’ve been hooked. And from that time, I have tried to add and improve the simple grilled cheese recipe.

But before I talk about that, I have found some interesting ways to make a grilled cheese sandwich over the years. The best way of course is stove top. After buttering one side of a piece of bread, place it butter side down onto the stove with a slice of cheese on top. Immediately after, butter another side of a piece of bread and place that butter side up onto the original bread with cheese. Keep grilling until cheese has fully been melted and both sides have a nice brown color.

There are two new ways I have found to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and it eliminated washing the pan afterwards lol.

One way, take a simple bread toaster and put it on it SIDE. Yah you heard that right. On its side! Then place a piece of bread with a slice of cheese on top into the toaster. You will have to slide it in. Place the other piece of bread also in the toaster. Then, as you might guess, turn the toaster on (the slices of bread might not go in so you will have to push them in).  Within a minute or so, carefully take out your slices of bread and put it on top of each other. Simple grilled cheese sandwich.

Who knew you could use a toaster like that? Also Don’t worry most toasters won’t touch the cheese. So no mess…I hope.

The second way (that my mother has found completely ridiculous) is using aluminum foil and a clothing iron. Wrap up your sandwich into aluminum foil and then…place that iron right on top of it! The aluminum acts as a conductor and cooks up your sandwich inside. And the iron provides the heat. It actually works!

Just a side note since we are talking about grilled cheese, one of the best places I have found near Rutgers that sells these tasty treats is Cheezen on Easton Ave. Great place to get a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and much more!

Alright so what to add in a grilled cheese sandwich? Well definitely try eating grilled cheese with tomato soup. It’s ridiculously good! Always love doing that when I hit up Panera Bread. So what can you do with a simple grilled cheese? Honestly you can put anything into a grilled cheese and it will probably taste good. I’ve tried onions, lettuce, mozzarella sticks, chicken, hot dogs, and even nutella! Even though a simple grilled cheese is great by itself, one can get real bored real fast from just eating bread and cheese. It’s important to always spice up life and find new ingredients to make something simple in something crazy awesome wonderful!

(I know someone who did this LOL…)

So go forth my friend, make a grilled cheese sandwich, try out the cooking methods I mentioned above, create new varieties and types of grilled cheese sandwiches. The world is your oyster…whatever that means lol!

Oh and of course….HAPPY NATIONAL GRILLED CHEESE MONTH!!!

5 Super Simple Changes You Can Make To Get You 5 Steps Closer To That Summer Body

Now that allergy season is coming up, it’s time to address the one thing everyone seems to be allergic to…the gym! If you want those fire Instagram pics but don’t really like going to the gym, or don’t have the time to go with your part-time job, 19 credits, and a multitude of extracurriculars, here are five simple things you can do that’ll slowly but surely pay off in the long run.

Take the stairs.

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This might seem like an obvious one, but with Rutgers’ architecture, chances are that even if you live on the first floor of your dorm, all your classes probably are not on the first floor. In that case, take the stairs! Using the stairs can help tone your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. And most importantly, you can avoid that giant group of people crowding the elevator.

Get off one bus stop earlier.

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Now that the weather is getting a little warmer (unless there’s another random snow day…who knows at this point?!) It can help to get off one or two bus stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. It’s a great way of adding a little exercise into your commute to class and avoiding some mild claustrophobia on the bus.

Carry around healthy snacks

This one probably requires the most self-control, as every student’s weakness is the dreaded vending machine. You end up caving and getting those sugar-filled Poptarts at absurdly high prices when you know one Costco run could’ve resolved all your problems. A healthy alternative is to carry around a healthy snack like a granola bar, or some yogurt in your backpack or purse so that the next time you’re hungry, you can save some calories and money!

Take a class. They’re free!

If you don’t like going to the gym, you are not alone. But there are plenty of other ways you can get in some activity as Rutgers offers free classes at all of the gyms on campus! Here you can do yoga, pilates, or BodyPump. It is usually only an hour long and available on every campus at many different times. So find a class and time that works for you, bring some friends with you, and start moving!

Drink LOTS of water

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This one is the easiest ones to do but for some reason is the one that most college kids struggle with. Dehydration has become a norm for so many college kids despite the abundance of water filters on campus. Make sure to always carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it when you get the chance. Drinking water not only is essential to fitness, but it also improves your skin, and keeps you more awake and alert!

Go ahead and make these simple changes in your life today! You’ll easily see the payoff in time for that summer vacation you’ve had planned.