Survivor: Midterms Edition

Don’t get voted off the island this semester.

Whether you just finished your exams or still have a week of midterms ahead of you, check out these tips to make sure that your exam week doesn’t have the same amount of drama as one of TV’s most popular reality shows.

Find a Distraction Free Study Place

A dorm room isn’t always the most productive place when it comes to studying. Noise and traffic from others on the floor may not direct all of your focus towards your studies. Many resident halls and academic buildings have their own study rooms. If these places don’t work for you, try my personal favorite: the library.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

If you’re struggling or have a lack of confidence in your class material, reach out to your professor to clear up any confusion. In addition to professors and teacher’s assistances, Rutgers has an abundance of tutoring opportunites available to help you ace your exam. More information about Rutgers Leaning Centers can be found here.

Form a Study Group

Studying exam material on your own can be overwhelming. To ease the workload, get a group of friends together from your class to study. Bouncing ideas off of your classmates and sharing notes will make studying much easier and much more fun, not to mention the higher level of confidence you’ll have walking into the exam.

Don’t Save All of Your Studying For the Last Minute

Noon is not the ideal time to start studying for your two o’clock exam. With that being said, don’t wait until the night before to begin studying either. Instead, divide your exam review into several different sessions throughout the week. Not only is this method far less stressful, but reviewing class material over a longer period of time will help you to better retain the information as well.

Take Some Time For Yourself

Your mental and physical health are crucial during exam week, so don’t forget to take care of yourself. During your studies, make sure you still take time to eat, drink plenty of water, and do your best to get some sleep. Go for a walk, watch a short episode of a TV show, or head to the gym when you’re feeling stressed out and need a mental break. Study breaks are equally as important as schoolwork when it comes to a successful study session.

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Sickness Season

Back in high school, I was one of those people you hated because they never seemed to catch whatever was going around. I was super careful about personal hygiene, including washing my hands every chance I got, and staying away from people who were coughing, sneezing, and/or sniffling.

It’s much easier said than done in college, though. In addition to your immune system being potentially weakened from less-than-ideal eating and sleeping habits (don’t lie, it happens to everyone in varying degrees), the whole campus is covered in contagions. Whether you’re in a lecture hall, bus, or dining hall, you’re definitely surrounded by countless chances to catch some disease or other.

Of course, that’s not to say it’s not preventable. (Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I’m currently recovering from what was most likely a cold.) If you’re careful, you can be one of those people who doesn’t have to worry about their health and midterms at the same time.

All the usual tips apply — wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing food/drinks, cover your mouth, etc. — but here’s a few more specific ones you might not already know.

  • Stop by the Health Center and pharmacy. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already (and if you’re not already sick), and stock up on vitamin supplements, cough drops, tissues, and maybe some over-the-counter basics (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.). You’ll be glad to have them on hand when you and/or your friends need them.
    • If you have school insurance, your vaccines and other appointments are probably covered, so there’s no reason not to go. You can even make appointments online, from wherever you are.
  • Check with your parents for home remedies and other health hacks. The people who raised you have definitely seen you through more than a few illnesses, and they probably have some ideas that will help you specifically. If you can get your hands on comfort foods similar to what you grew up with, that can help too.
  • If you and/or your friends are getting sick, it’s okay to spend less time with them. This is exactly how sickness spreads, and I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason most of my friends are showing various symptoms.
  • Skipping class might not be a practical option (especially because, again, midterms; you can contact your professor and try to schedule a make-up, but the reality is just that it won’t always work out), but if possible, take a health day. It’s better to have to make up a few days’ work than to struggle through a few weeks and have to catch up anyway because you couldn’t focus on the material.
  • Particularly as you’re starting to get better, do your laundry (including your bedsheets!) and wipe down the surfaces in your room. This is part hygiene and part psychological trick: it’ll help you feel less gross.
  • Seriously, make sure you’re eating (somewhat) healthy and getting some sleep. These are notoriously hard in college, I know, but they really do make a difference.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard too soon. It’s tempting to hit the ground running as soon as you feel the slightest bit better, but the only thing worse than getting sick the first time is relapsing because you overworked yourself.

Best of health to everyone, and good luck on midterms!

Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You Got A Library Card

Alright, so maybe this is a little exaggerated, but the library seriously is an extremely productive place. I’m actually amazed at the amount of work that I’m able to get done in a single session.

A lot of people reading this may be laughing at my newfound fascination with the library. The truth is, I think this is the very first time I’ve had access to such a place, which is probably why I’m so enamored with my new discovery. When I walk through the doors of the library, it’s as if I am stepping into a whole new world. I sit in one of the private “cubbies,” put my headphones on, and get to work.

While I love the presence of company and collaboration, I’ve discovered that it allows for a lot of unneeded disturbances when trying to meet strict deadlines. At the library, however, the lack of distractions make a four hour study session well worth the time. On occasion, it can actually be quite relaxing.

To make matters even better, the library is conveniently located right outside of my building. Of course, when I want a change of scenery, I can just hop a bus to one of the many other libraries located across Rutgers.

Even though I love the library, I acknowledge that this style of studying may not be for everyone. Regardless of your studying style, everyone is sure to find themselves in one of   the Rutgers libraries for printing, computer uses, or study groups.

I must say, there is a part of me that is shocked that I could be so passionate about the library, of all things. Heck, I had enough to write this entire blog post about it! Deep down inside though, I think it’s all just an excuse to sing the beloved song from Arthur.

#RutgersHacks

As I approach the end of my first month here, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that have made my life so much easier. Since a lot of these are considered “common knowledge,” no one ever really comes right out and tells you all these things — so here I am, breaking the cycle.

  • Download the Rutgers app. It includes so many useful resources, including the bus schedule, dining hall menus, and places around campus (i.e., you can look up the Douglass Student Center, and it’ll give you the street address, nearby bus stops, the Google Maps view, and some bonus background information).
    • You can also get the NextBus app, which tends to have more accurate predictions; if you’re really committed (pun intended), you might even consider paying $0.99 for the R U There Yet? app, which incorporates bus routes, predicted times, and directions to get from one stop to the next.
  • Overestimate how long it’ll take you to get places. Even disregarding the issue of getting on the bus (which is part luck, part timing, and part choosing your stops strategically), you’ll most likely get lost more than a few times. The aforementioned apps help, of course, but they’re not foolproof.
  • Plan out your whole week ahead of time. Beyond knowing when and where you have class, it really helps to figure out when you’ll be doing homework and what other commitments you have. Google Calendar is a great tool for this; most people I know also keep a planner or digital to-do list.
    • Also, sometimes you’ll have to bail on events you really wanted to attend or friends you really wanted to hang out with. It sucks, but it does happen.
  • Digital textbooks are your friends. They tend to be the cheapest to get your hands on, and you can store them all on one device in lieu of toting around multiple textbooks. (If you know you study better with printed textbooks, by all means do what works for you! It’s just something to consider.)
  • Make meal swipes your go-to. Especially if you’re living on College Ave and/or have friends with cars on campus, it’s really tempting to eat out instead of at the dining halls. Since you (or your parents) already paid for this food, though, try not to waste it. Plus, several other places take meal swipes (Kilmer’s Market and Henry’s Diner on Livi; the Starbucks truck; etc.), so you do still have options.
  • Figure out where the water fountains/refill stations are in your dorm. And carry around a water bottle so you can use them.
  • Keep your keys and RU ID together. This one might be a little debatable if you tend to lose your things, but these are arguably the two most important things you’ll carry around. You’ll want easy access, at least to your ID, but not so easy that you’ll drop it on the bus or in a lecture hall.
  • Find multiple places to study. For on-campus residents, of course, the dorm is the most obvious one (particularly for those with access to the Honors College seminar rooms!). But it’s been shown scientifically that studying in multiple places (including the room where you’ll be taking the test, if possible) aids information retention, so. Study smarter, not harder.
  • Use your resources. It should go without saying that you should ask first, but you can probably borrow your roommate’s cleaning supplies or your RA’s scissors. This can apply to food as well.
  • Keep an open mind. Even if you grew up in New Jersey, you’re probably going to exposed to a lot of new experiences; there’s a reason Rutgers prides itself on its culture of diversity and inclusion. You don’t have to completely discard all your previously held beliefs and biases, but you should definitely be aware of them.

The Heartbreak of Not Being Able to Commit to Every Club All the Time

Do you remember the involvement fair, the big event on the day before school that feels like it happened three months ago? If you went there and went there earnestly you may recall having the feeling of a being kid in a candy store, a candy store that goes on and on for the greater part of a mile and instead of jellybeans has three trees worth of fliers for you. “Look at all this opportunity!”, you might have exclaimed back then, while raising your hands in the air and skipping down College Avenue. So you signed up for everything. RU Unplugged and RU Bodybuilding. The Medieval Club and Knight Time Productions. Fencing, ultimate frisbee, meditation, culinary appreciation, beewatching, squirrel-feeding, and tennis. Sign up for both IVMEF and the Hillel newsletters, just to be safe. Express interest in all the frats and sororities, just to be safe.

So now you are beyond involved in Rutgers, like even Henry Rutgers had nothing on you. But if every beat of this post has resonated with you so far, especially the part about yelping down College Avenue with your hands in the air, by now you might have contracted a lurking sickness that tends to come out of latency whenever you look at your calendar. It’s formally referred to as “Holy crap I have no time to do any work and it’s been like six months since I just, like, sat down!itis”. So what is the cure?

1: Cut a club from your life.

This is why this post needed the word “heartbreak” in the title. Some clubs are a lot of fun, but require a greater time investment that you were prepared for. Perhaps the leadership has asked you to complete group projects in between each meeting. The funny thing about these informal assignments is that they often feel more pressing than academic assignments, you know, those things that actually have real bearing on your future, because you don’t want to let down your friends at the club. Please, don’t keep yourself anywhere out of a sense of guilt.

2: Clubs with benefits.

Most clubs that aren’t sports or performing arts don’t expect every single person to show up religiously. If you like to watch movies, play games, or do Yoga, but it’s just not you to do these things every week, feel free to drop in and drop out if that’s OK with the people there. The plus side of being somewhat involved in several clubs is that you give yourself more opportunies to branch out socially.

3: Make stronger commitments to clubs and organizations you really like.

Just because you free up some time on your schedule doesn’t mean you have to replace it with nothing! If you have enough time for the immutable studies, personal habits, and social commitments, maybe commit to partaking consistently in the one or two organizations you really like. Attend most of the meetings and events, try to get to know a lot of the people there. There is joy in focusing on the things that are most important to you. And who knows, if you are involved in an organization often enough, you might just make president one day; every young person should dream of it like they used to.

My Rutgers Family

I’ve always been told that the transition from high school to college would be a tough one. For the first time in my life, I would be living on my own with new people. More importantly, I would face the struggle of not seeing my family everyday. From the outside looking in, the move-in process can sound pretty lonely. Luckily for me, I was quick to find a “second family” right here at Rutgers.

On move-in day, the only person I was familiar with was my roommate. Sure, we had met a few times and had been talking for months, but we didn’t quite know each other yet. Both coming from small towns where we went to school with the same people our entire lives, we’ve been in very few situations where we were forced to make all new friends. Once we were settled in, we realized that there were others in the same boat.

After a day of running from room to room on our floor, introducing ourselves to our fellow floor mates while nosily trying to get a glance at everyone’s dorm decor, I already found myself in a tight-knit group of people. On the first night, my entire floor was already going to the dinning hall together, comparing schedules, and planning movie nights.

In such a small amount of time, my floor bonded. We shared interests, stories, and even traveled as a pack to the football game the very next day. I was amazed at how just hours of living together could bring a group of people so close together.

As we’ve gone our separate ways in the past few weeks while going to classes, joining different clubs/organizations, and making new friends, I’d like to think that we’re all still pretty close. In between the chaos of college, we still manage to make time for our afternoon tea parties and “family” dinners where we can all let go of our worries from the day.

It is crazy to think that I could feel so connected to people I’ve known for barely a month. I genuinely feel as if I’ve known my floor mates for years, making living away from home that much easier. Before coming to Rutgers, countless people told me to live on the Livingston campus my Freshman year. After taking their advice and living through it,  I now understand why- for Livi has truly become my home away from home.

I Survived my First Week of College!

September’s here and everyone is getting back into the swing of things; however, you are beginning a new life in a new place with new people! It can sound overwhelming, exciting, fun, and it can be all of those things! After going through my first week at Rutgers, I want to share what I believe the most important things are to remember in the big picture of life here.

 

  • Remember why you are here, and keep your priorities in check. The first week’s workload can make people feel stressed, but don’t worry if you are here in the first place, it’s nothing you can’t handle! Right away, learning centers have resources available to help you- I already went in for help with a Chemistry homework problem and it was super helpful! Overall, manage your time right- and you got this!
  • Remember to meet people and enjoy your time here! At Rutgers, everybody, no matter their background, is embraced, so take advantage of being around such a diverse group of students. Strike up conversation with someone on the bus, sit next to someone different in class, say hi to the kid you pass down the hall on your way to the bathroom. Doing these things will truly make you feel like a part of your Rutgers community and will help you to enjoy yourself.
  • Last, but definitely not least, GET INVOLVED through the first few weeks! There is so much here for everyone at Rutgers and the amount of opportunities presented to you through email, the involvement fair, your resident’s hall, is abundant. I got involved by joining the dance team for Rutgers and the feeling of being on the field the first time 2 weeks ago was a memory of a lifetime. And every weekend that I go on the field, and see the support of all the crazy school-spirited students, I know I am in the right place. Go to the games. Join a club. Go out of your way to be involved and it will make you feel you are in the right place too.

 

5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Days

Not even a week of college has gone by, and I’ve already picked up a few lessons to help me for the long run.

College is so different from high school. 

Though I knew that big changes were coming, it wasn’t until I completed my first day that I realized how true this was! It was weird getting used to the fact that there are no bells, no lockers, no guidance counselors, and no one running at the back of me telling me that I need to go to class. In high school, everything is small- the building, the classrooms, your class size etc. In college, however, everything is huge! You lose that sense of familiarity and routine.  Instead, you have classes all over the campus, classes so large that it seems impossible to get to know people, and teachers not forcing you to do things.  You don’t feel the pressure anymore because no one is placing any expectations on you.  The consequences of missing class and not doing your work aren’t immediate.  Professors want you to succeed, but they will give you their undivided attention. In other words, everything is up to you.  You are in control of everything, and that’s a big change!

Friends don’t seem to be a priority anymore.

While maintaining friendships seemed extremely important in high school, that is not the case in college.  Chances are that your friend group will split apart and not end up in the same college.  The transition can be difficult, and there may be moments when you feel lonely and incomplete. But, remember that college is a big place.  Knowing that I am just one of thousands of students walking around, going to classes, and living my life is somewhat comforting to me. Feeling invisible in a crowd lets me be independent and do whatever I want to do.  I am also more open to meeting new people and making friends along the way.  Even though I may never run into them again, it strangely feels okay for now. I’ve heard the best way to make friends in college is through extracurriculars, so I am excited to get involved!

The dreaded bus system is not-so-dreadful.

Changing buses and finding bus stops at Rutgers seemed terrifying at first.  I was more nervous about catching the right bus than attending my first class.  Once I got to a bus stop on my first day, I realized just how easy it actually was.  The Rutgers app lists all bus routes, nearby bus stops and bus times.  Make sure your phone is always charged because you will use Maps constantly! Buses may be packed and you may find yourself lost around campus, but don’t panic! People are extremely nice and ready to help, so you can ask for help whenever you need it.

Changing classes is a piece of cake!

When I got my schedule, I was confused and unhappy.  Some classes and timings that I wanted were not given to me.  I was paranoid and felt that I would not get my desired schedule.  To my surprise, changing classes was extremely easy! During add/drop week, I just had to find open slots for courses and sections that I wanted, and change my schedule online. It was surprising how I could simply change my classes around with a click of a button, and boom! If I was not happy after attending a class, I could immediately change it.  A convenient tool called Course Sniper notifies you when a certain course/section opens up.  Advisors use our preferences and prerequisites to design an appropriate schedule for us.  Even if things do not work in your favor, it is important to remember that this schedule is only for a semester!

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed.

There are so many opportunities at college: clubs, organizations, events, jobs, internships, research, and the list goes on! After the involvement fair, I was a bit overwhelmed by everything that I wanted to do. Personally, I decided that it was best to take it easy first semester and join one or two clubs.  Keeping everything organized is important, otherwise, it is very hard to keep track.  I’ve never been an avid calendar user, but now, I cannot survive without my calendar. It makes my life so easy to navigate.  I love seeing a busy calendar! I realized that I needed an app for homework assignments and tests because it is so easy to forget tasks without noting them down. Especially in college, when each day’s schedule is different, due dates are distant and there’s usually a 2-3 day break between classes of a specific course, a homework app is a life saver! I use IStudiez on my Mac- I can upload my entire schedule and note down assignments in class.  In the end, it is important to stay calm, meditate if necessary and enjoy college!

It’s only been 5 days, and I’m starting to feel as if I have college all figured out.  I probably have far more to learn, but it’s a relief to feel comfortable in this huge place.

5 Things I’ve Learned in My First Week at Rutgers

Wow! I cannot believe it has already been 12 days since I moved into my dorm in Brett Hall on College Avenue. I love it here so far, and I’ve already learned so much, both in class and around campus. I’m glad to be sharing these five important lessons with you, because while I had to learn them from experience, at least you, dear reader, will be very prepared.

1. The weekend buses cannot be trusted, especially not on the weekend before classes start. And especially not when there’s a football game.

I’m in the SAS Honors Program, so I moved in early on August 31, and I was here for the whole first weekend before all of the other freshmen and returning students moved in. I went to Hillel on Friday night for a wonderful Shabbat dinner, and afterward, I hung out with one of my friends, also a freshman. Hillel is on College Avenue, so I showed him around College Avenue for a while since we were already there, but then we wanted to go to Busch, where he lives, so he could show me around. There were special buses designated to take people to the football game; although we had zero interest in attending the game, the football stadium is on Busch, so we took one of those buses to Busch. We hung out for a while, until it got late and I wanted to go back to my dorm. We headed to the student center and waited, expecting a bus to show up in not too long. Well, that bus didn’t show up, and neither did the next one, or the next one, or the next one. By then, I had found a group of other people also trying to get back to College Avenue, many of them to the same dorm as me. We were all in a state of panic, and were desperately trying to figure out another way to get back. Thankfully, though, a bus eventually arrived, and we took that bus back. It was already after midnight at this point. Lesson learned. On the bright side, though, I made some new friends and gained some new memories!! Still, avoid the weekend buses. Thankfully, once the semester officially starts, the weekday buses run on Fridays : )

2. Don’t study in Alexander Library on College Avenue on Saturday late afternoons if you plan to be there a while.

I very much enjoy studying in Alexander Library on College Avenue when I have a lot of time to work. In fact, I am writing this in Alexander Library right now!! I went there to study around 4:30 or so on Saturday, and was happily working when an announcement blared over the speakers, saying that the library would be closing at 6. I was surprised, because I had been expecting the library to be open all day like on the weekdays, but that is clearly not the case. Find somewhere else to study after 6 on Saturdays. I suggest the quiet lounge in your dorm if you have one; mine is lovely.

3. If someone throws up on the bus, everyone has to get off and wait for another bus.

On my first Saturday on campus, my roommate and I were trying to get back to College Avenue. We got on a bus and had been riding it for a while when suddenly we stopped at the Red Oak Lane stop on Cook / Douglass and were told to get off the bus. Someone else who had been kicked off with us told me that whenever someone throws up, the bus has to be cleared for health reasons. We had to wait a while for another bus to come, but it took a while. Hopefully that won’t ever happen to you, but you should know this just in case. Be careful to avoid any and all throw up. Thankfully, I wasn’t anywhere near it.

4. Bring a lanyard with you, and not just to hold your dorm key.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a huge Harry Potter fan and have been for half my life. I’m not kidding. I went to Florida with my family the week before my move in day, and of course we went to Universal Studios. It actually happened to be the day of the solar eclipse, which was pretty cool. Anyway, when I walked in, I saw a stand selling a bunch of different lanyards, including ones representing each of the different Hogwarts houses. Of course, I just had to get one. I figured I would find some reason to use it in college. Since I am a Hufflepuff, I, of course, chose the Hufflepuff lanyard. Fast forward to a couple weeks later. For convenience, I usually wear my lanyard all the time so that I can easily access my RU ID card and my dorm room key. As I went to different events and club meetings throughout the first week of school, many people saw my lanyard and talked to me about Harry Potter. I made many friends that way, and I’ve only been here 12 days. Seriously. My lanyard is helping me make friends. No matter what, you should definitely bring a lanyard with you, but if you can, try to find one that’s unique and represents something you like. It’ll help you more than you realize.

5. Make the most of the time before classes start, because once they do, you’ll probably be spending most of your time doing homework.

I know, it sucks. But seriously, those days before classes start are there for a reason!! It’s free time that you can use to become familiar with the school, meet people, relax, and have fun. You might have to get out of your comfort zone a little bit, but that’s the whole point of college. Don’t let a single moment of those first few days go to waste, and definitely don’t spend them in your room. Go on an adventure, or at least go to an event. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

I hope that these tips help you at least a little bit!! It’s been a whirlwind so far, but I’m looking forward to the rest of this semester and the rest of my four years here : )

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