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Prioritizing Homework- The Numbers Game

28 Sep

If I had time I could probably figure out a formula (thank you statistics,) and run it through to determine how I should properly prioritize my homework and studying. As of now, I’m too busy hating the fact that I’m having to pick and choose which homework to do, to have much time to do anything but mandatory homework. As fun as systematizing my studying habits could be, I’m afraid extracurriculars will have to wait.

I hate the fact that it’s already come to this. We’re barely six weeks in, (five weeks, six weeks? I’m not sure,) and I’m already playing the game of which homework to do, which assignment to study for. Well, I have two quizzes and an exam today, not to mention the lab homework that is not completely finished, and the chemistry homework that I’ve already written off since it’s 80% finished. For a few moments I was actually wondering which to study for the most in the limited time I have left before each one occurs. Then came the obvious answer-

The exam! Study for the exam since it’s weighted so much more heavily than the others. The quizzes are sometimes dropped, anyway, so make sure to study for the exam, which will count regardless of how poorly I do. Exam study, hooooo! (Of course that meant I took a few minutes to come and blog about how horrific all of this is.)

Next time I should write about the fact that my best friend is getting married in TX this weekend and that’s why my schedule has suddenly become so much more hectic. Pushing assignments up early so I can not have to worry about wasting more time working on them instead of traveling. Wedding this weekend. I’ll be in a much happier mood when all of this is done!

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Being Okay with Being Sick

15 Sep

It probably should not have surprised me as much as it did that I would succumb to sickness. After all, this is a mid-sized university with thousands of students. People have been blaming the changing season for the trouble, but I’d be more inclined to moving between 70F classrooms to 85F outsides and back again, or at the very least- stress.

Being one of those annoying souls who “never gets sick,” I was a little distressed when I finally acknowledged this for what it is. Thank you, karma. It’s not as bad as it could be- not the flu or anything so dramatic. ‘Tis but a common cold, I believe. Soar throat, swollen lymph glands in my throat and lots of drainage.

It remains, though, that because I really don’t get sick very often, it was mildly distressing. I won’t go as far as to say I panicked, but I did a lot of mental cataloging as to what could have led to the pain I faced laying in bed Wednesday morning at 3:30, wondering when the fire in my throat would be quenched. Had I eaten something bad, or a series of bad somethings? Did I fail to properly wash my hands after lab sometime last week? Then as I briefly met with a professor, who enlightened me to the fact that he too was sick, I realized it was probably just circumstances.

We’re in a setting where, it’s probably fair to say, students don’t always practice the greatest hygiene, and certainly don’t consider their overall health (if the number of sodas I see guzzled each day is any indication.)

So, no need to search for retribution. No one to blame in this case, not even myself. It’s just a cold. A common one, not the first and probably not the last, but definitely part of the education experience.

http://grooveshark.com/s/The+Lark+Ascending/3QnpIo?src=5

Three Weeks In. Keep Stuffing Your Face

12 Sep

We’re all into the third full week of classes here at UNA, and my only regret thus far is that I haven’t written down every observation that has come to me. I keep having epiphany-like moments, and most of they time they are simple, yet profound thoughts (hello, redundancy) but also tend to occur in the middle of class.

Things that I have noticed so far? Maybe it’s shallow but I tend to notice the clothing of other students a lot. Things that were important to me in my first four years of college are not so important now. I notice a lot of other girls wearing these UA or Nike shorts that are trendy casual (, and some sartorialist somewhere is setting his pocket squares on fire in protest of such a category). I think four years ago, or five or six years ago I would have been worried about going out and having a pair of those shorts. As shallow and trite as that sounds, it’s honest. Now, I’m content with my 10-year-old soffes that I refuse to wear anyway except inside out. I never liked the fact that they had a logo on the rump, but the logo’ed version was cheaper than the regular ones. There you go.

I’m not so concerned with clothing or the I’m-cooler-than-you apathetic stares that happen even at a university of this magnitude (and by magnitude, I mean insignificance). As far as personal possessions go, I do find it extremely amusing that many third and fourth year male students seem to be wearing sunglasses that have these day-glo green and yellow legs/stems. This is amusing because I think they are doing it in the ironic way. I can’t wait to tell my mom, who has been wearing them wholly unironically for…. over a decade? My mom the trendsetter. Who knew?

Another money-related idea that waxes and wanes in my thoughts is pride in making my own lunch. In a BIG way, it’s helping me keep my expenses down. I’m making a lot of onigiri since the cost of materials is EXTREMELY cheap relative to yield. You can also make a lot in a short amount of time, they keep for a few days, they travel really well, and they are probably a 7/10 on the health scale. Maybe 6.5, depending on the filling picked. On the whole, I highly recommend them as a snack/lunch source. Actually, I could really go for one right now, and I’m glad that you can’t hear my stomach rumbling.

I still don’t have a job. Of any kind. And I haven’t begun to tackle my volunteer hours needed for grad school. Heidi, who you might remember worked at UI-Champaign until a few months ago, advised me to speak to the VP of student services, plead my case, and see if they might be able to help me directly. I do already have a four-year degree after all. It shouldn’t be that hard to hire someone PT on campus for… anything, really. I’m adaptable. And to the point of begging. Tears, if necessary. Get ready.

The fact that I don’t have a job at least means that my grades are solid. My first major exam was in maths and I got a 99. I feel that’s a triumphant smiting. The second major exam (my first for A&P) was today. I feel like it was a solid B. I’ll be happily surprised/satisfied with a low A, but I’m pretty sure right now that it was a high B. If I made a C, I’ll be very surprised and disappointed.

As of right now, I’m looking to drop my psychology course. I’m at 14 credit hours, and in the days of my bad-assery, I might have been able to work 14 or 15, but as it stands now, I’m going to be doing well to maintain a high GPA at 12. Dropping PY, however, means I need to pick up another one-hour course for the sake of maintaining full time status. Why does that matter, you might wonder? According to US Federal law, you do not qualify for student loans unless at FT status. So… Now I’m trying to work against the resistance I’m feeling from professors about picking up another hour course. Hopefully it’s not too late in the semester already for some of them. Hopefully. Please pray, friends.

Ironically, the main problem facing me right now is the same problem that faced me the first time around. For all of my life experience and the wisdom I’ve gained in the past four years, my main challenge is time-management. Can I get an amen? I pretty much detailed everything in the paragraph above as far as workload goes, but then there’s making sure that I get all of my HW done, labs preparation, quiz studying, not to mention just general studying to actually learn the material.

So, onward and upward, fellow students. Here’s to the end of the semester!

The One-Eighty

29 Aug

It’s good to take time to put down the things that are great about this return to college, since the past few weeks have been trying at times.

Before that, though, I’d like to take a moment to expand on visualizations. I realize now that I really did not do that at all in the post which mentioned them. How very absent-minded of me! I think I might have been watching Tangled at the time (can’t say I recommend it, though Flynn was a fun character.)

Visualizations are basically lucid daydreams. One visualizes where they would like to be at a reasonable, predetermined time in the future. I want to be a physical therapist. Often times I imagine myself sitting next to a patient who is laid out on a table, and I am bending their leg over said patient’s head. They are enjoying the process. We are laughing.

Maybe visualization could be called the happy place people go to when they are under duress. Haha.

I know it’s going to take years to get to the point where I am sitting with a patient of mine (even thinking of this as a reality gives me happy chills), but it’s my goal. It’s where I want to be, helping someone improve their quality of life in direct relation to their body and indirectly with their mental state. And getting paid decently to do it.

That’s visualizing. I first picked this up from marathon training, but that was a few years ago, and as such is a different story.

The great things going on right now in college are the fantastic materials I’m learning. Really, I’m enjoying it all so much! What is truly exciting is how even though I’m only four days into classes, and even though they are very different in terms of disciplines, ALL of my classes have overlapped in material. Statistics, biology, and chemistry. Literally ALL of them mentioned standard deviation today. I also found another classmate in my chemistry class who is also in the Stats class. We had a polite giggle over standard deviation and the fact that we both just learned a convenient formula for it in stats, but ignored it in chemistry. “Teehee, maybe we should go write it on the board?” We didn’t.

A GREAT bonus today was that Alex came to visit. His family lives an hour or so away and he spontaneously came to visit them from Chicago for the weekend. Even though his flight back is tonight, I bribed him into coming to have lunch with me today. Lunch and coffee. He proceeded to order a large coffee. Jerk. I have to admit, having him here even for an hour or so was a huge emotional balm. Being alone, or the feeling of being alone, really sucks.

Alex and I both have the advantage/disadvantage of having grown up in the Southern USA. Even though we have had different experiences, we come from a similar socioeconomic background and have similar enough values to give us similar perspectives. The fact that we have both lived out of the South for years a time and have returned to it for other large chunks of time give us some perspective that not all of our peers in the South share. Nothing in particular, or perhaps too many things to mention in brevity- race, religion, politics. The usual. We don’t agree on everything, and we won’t. Ever. But we are grounded enough in our beliefs to respect one another and to challenge one another. It’s a very comfortable friendship. And it was excellent to see him today.

Already Pulling Out Visualization

28 Aug

Homework is such a drag. It is, and there’s no getting around it. Homework, itself, or the fact that it’s a drag.

So I’m already pulling out the visualization to remind myself exactly WHY I am doing this and why I need to do my homework above par, instead of just doing enough to pass.

1. Homework IS an effective study tool.
2. Homework happens to have significant weight on my grades, at least in my science classes.

I don’t have the luxury of screwing around. No one in college does, and if you think you do, you’re kidding yourself. Okay, no one on track for grad school does. I’ve got a year, and my grades have to be STELLAR by the time I start applying. I can see myself next year turning in shoddy grades (ha, why even bother?) with the intent to graduate in the spring, and that parenthetical expression is exactly what the admissions team will think. Why bother applying if this is the best work you’ll do? Why, indeed, madam?

In happier news, I have a lunch date with an old friend tomorrow! Hurrah! Boo, that I had to bribe him with lunch to come visit.

Laughing at Panic and Adding More Food!

25 Aug

So I had a little bit of anxiety Tuesday before classes began on Wednesday. I was nervous and unsure, which you can read about in the second post before this one. I am happy to report that my near-panic was, as I hoped, blown out of proportion and mostly unnecessary!

The most stressful part of classes was/is not having my books yet. There’s nothing I can do about that until I get my financial aid, but the professors, since it’s the beginning of the semester, are coming down pretty hard about… well, everything. It’s a good rule of thumb, I know. Lay your ground rules, be a necessary-jerk at the beginning and be lenient later as opposed to being nice from day one and reining in behavior later. Still, it is added stress to have to internalize their expectations on top of already well-known necessities.

In a segue, here are some pointers for financial aid. My first time around in college, federal loans (subsidized or otherwise) were handled by private banks. After the 2008 financial crisis, the Department of Education took over the handling of student loans, subsidized, un-subsidized, etc. It’s a little scary given the current debt situation in the United States, but I guess it’s better than floundering banks having students by the (fill in your choice of anatomical description) while students have any kind of loans from them; this even though the US now has a AA+ rating. The DoE handles student loans, the loans go directly to the university and whatever is left over after tuition, fees, and other expenses, the university gives to the student in the form of a check. I thought beforehand, even with loan entrance counseling, that the check would be coming from the DOE. Not the case. This is very good because I’m pretty sure that it would be coming about a week later than it already is. So! When you’re signing up for student loans, be sure to check your campus mail or with your FA department about how they will ensure that money gets to you. That way you can get your school texts, or replace that car tire that keeps going flat instead of feeding 50 cents every day to the air pressure machine.

Also! Just in case you did not know this, if at ALL possible, do NOT buy text books in your university bookstore. Good-condition, used books, and earlier editions are almost always available at suppliers like Amazon (or ebay) and there are other providers online. Brand new books, especially when from the bookstore, tend to be marked up 200% or more. Why pay 100 for a text you can get used for 20? Even with shipping, paying 30 is better. AND, I have yet to meet a professor who is not understanding on this point. They are people, and what’s more, they were students at one point. They don’t want you to pay more than you need either. So just don’t do it.

One of my professor’s is an unrepentant mumbler, which adds a little bit of charm to his overall persona, but only a little, and only because I finally tuned my ear to listen to him fluidly. Otherwise it would be downright frustrating. Another professor speaks quietly and nasally so that when he said “kidney model” I thought he said, “kidney bottle.” The class was becoming very advanced very quickly with that misunderstanding.

I have to admit that my 200 level A&P class, which was the most intimidating in some ways, has become my favorite class thus far. It’s challenging and demanding, but I LOVE what I’m learning. And the material IS intelligible. I’m not going to be able to skate through easily without a lot of studying like I did in humanities courses, but it IS doable, and there is something immensely satisfying about learning things with diligence and proper study time. It’s also a big relief that we’re not being assigned any research papers. None at all. It makes me want to ask what the deal is.

So I don’t have a lot of ingredients right now. Or, at least nothing for something heavy, but I’m HUNGRY. So what I DO have is rice, egg, some lettuce, some parm cheese, and some lemon juice. This sounds like the makin’s of somefink GOOD.

So here’s what we’re gonna do:

What you need:
one egg
one cup of rice cooked
a small, small head of lettuce (I am using ONE of an artisan, four-pack, which, when chopped is a TON of lettuce)
1/8 cup of grated parm (this is about three or four T)
1 T of lemon juice
garlic powder
EVOO

Heat about one T (or half a T) of EVOO in a skillet on med-high heat. Scramble your egg and cook it in a thin, tortilla-style crepe. Have fun flipping it over XD (I recommend a wide turner). When it’s fully cooked, cut it in half through the diameter. Then cut the two halves into half-inch wide strips.

Set the egg aside, and toss the rice into the pan to heat it up (unless it’s already warm, in which case, go to the next step!) Add the strips to the rice, and toss it with your lettuce. The lettuce might wilt a bit due to the heat of the egg. Toss in the cheese, lemon juice, and garlic powder to taste.

This is quick, quick, quick, and healthy. There’s a fair amount of protein in brown rice (about 5g in a cup) and this is a pretty low fat.

All told, the calories come to between 600 and 700, but it’s a VERY healthy 600-700. So for a meal, that’s pretty low. Also, I think that the greens would probably perform better as either kale or, maybe spinach, but I didn’t have either of those, and I’m going for honesty. However, I’m eating it right now and it’s pretty good. Give it a try!

The First Days of Middle School and College Get the Same Speeches

23 Aug

It may not seem like it, but it’s true. My first day to return to classes is tomorrow. Up until last night I felt fine about everything. For six months I have known this was coming, and never until last evening did I feel the amount of anxiety I have started feeling in these last 22 hours.

What if the other kids don’t like me? What if I can’t do this work? What if after giving it everything I have I still don’t make it to grad school?

So, maybe only the first one is the really similar concern between middle schoolers and second-time college students, but hey, it’s valid. I want to be liked by my peers. The age gap between us is not *so* substantial. Though the college tweeted today that Ferris Bueller could have been the dad of any of the freshmen. *sob*

If the work is beyond me, it’s going to make things even more difficult than they already are. I don’t have a job, and that weighs on me, but my main concern is making stellar grades so I can get accepted to a proper grad school. Science has never been my strong suit. Or, at least it hasn’t since high school. People are my strong suit. This is why I want to go into PT. There happens to be a lot of science between me and that DPT, though.

Grad school. Ha. So many thoughts come to mind. I start applying in a year. I have my list of schools, but I don’t know if in a year my resume will be exactly strong. I’ve got to have REALLY good grades between now and then. I’ve got to get to know my professors really well so I can get good letters of rec, and I think I might not have done so well in the first place on that one….

All of these concerns start quickly spiraling into something that resembles chaos.

This is the point where I eat an ice cream drum stick and CALM. DOWN. In the time that it takes me to eat my drum stick, I’m going to assess these worries.

Maybe the kids won’t like me. Yeah, maybe, but no one’s going to beat me up for my lunch money. I’m good with relating to different people, and respecting the time and circumstances they have come to in life. I have a measure of wisdom, that I don’t mind sharing, but for the most part I will leave people alone if they want to be left alone. I’m friendly, but I don’t want to be overeager, which is probably the cardinal sin of secular society these days. Or at least, when it comes to the Canon of Cool.

The main point is that I know who I am. I don’t have to worry about impressing people. I have enough faith (and enough memory from my previous college experience) to know that there WILL be people I will connect with. I won’t be alone the whole time. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to avoid people. Haha, that’ll be a post for another time (not).

So what if I can’t do the work? What if I’m no good? Well, during orientation one of the declarations made during our campus tour was exactly how far the student retention service center is willing to go to help students. Tutoring, for free, in any subject. I’ve already promised myself (and now I reiterate it to myself!) that day one, if I have problems in any courses, I am going to tutoring center. If I can’t learn from a professor, I’ll have another student break it down into baby-sized bites until I can digest it all. I will CRUSH MY COURSES.

And grad school? Well, there are a few hundred in the US alone. I’m sure that one of them will take me. I’ll be realistic about where I apply. If I apply to ten they won’t be (only) the very best top ten in the country. I’ll be flexible, be aware of my own limitations and their expectations. And if I have to take more courses, I’ll take more courses. The five year plan I have going is flexible. Whew…

Four courses, and fourteen credit hours start tomorrow:
Elementary Statistics
General Psychology
Anatomy and Physiology I (and lab)
General Chemistry I (and lab)