Rutgers “Life-Hacks”

In my last post, I spoke a little bit about how I have been spending, and managing, my time here during my first month at Rutgers. During this time, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge about different aspects and opportunities at Rutgers. I have also figured out ways to make my time here a little easier and more enjoyable.

These following ‘”Life-Hacks” are all based on my personal experiences here at Rutgers. Some are obvious, while others I discovered through various occurances. I hope that these tips can help you as a current or prospective Rutgers student as they have helped me.

1. When it comes to the buses, the earlier the better. Before coming to Rutgers, I had only heard horror stories about crowded buses, inaccurate time tables, and constant bus-related tardiness. While a crowded bus is sometimes unavoidable, there are ways to prevent being caught in a bad situation time-wise. Make sure you plan your time accordingly to get to each campus. For example, on a normal day traveling from Cook/Douglass to College Ave., I always allot at least half an hour before my class starts. This may seem like a lot of time, but it’s better to have extra time in case of disaster (most notably, a bus too crowded to take you so you must wait for another one).

IMPORTANT: When the weather is poor, make sure you get to the bus stops extra early. Not only will the buses be packed due to students seeking refuge, but also the traffic on George Street and College Ave. becomes even worse, so plan ahead!

2. If the bus is not your thing, bike! That’s right – bringing my bike to campus was one of the best decisions I made. The bike ride from Cook/Douglass to College Ave., for example, takes around 15 min, which is relatively the same amount as the EE bus. Biking not only takes out the stress of the capricious bus system, but also provides a work out. Of course, when I have to travel to Busch or Livingston from Cook/Douglass, a trip which is fairly long by bike, I still rely on the Rutgers Bus. It’s a good habit to become well-accustomed with the RU bus, but when the weather is pleasant biking can be an excellent alternative.

3. Explore other on-campus dining options. While the dining halls always offer a great selection of food, sometimes you may not be hungry for a full meal. Still, you do not want to waste an entire meal swipe for a snack or a cup of coffee. Instead, find out about different dining locations around your campus and within your student centers. Most of these places will also offer other dining options and often accept meal swipes.

Tip: When you want a good cup of coffee and are on Cook/Douglass, Cook Cafe sells an excellent Turbo brew for only $1.50.

4. Eating Healthy: Think Expand, Not Restrict: Coming into college, many people fear the dreaded Freshmen 15 and wonder how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle within a new environment. At the dining hall, you will be presented a multitude of choices from salad to pasta. While you do not ONLY have to eat salad, a smart way to eat is by having a balanced plate. For example, when the Mac & Cheese bar is open, take advantage of it but accompany it with  a side of veggies. This will not only allow you to gain the nutrients needed within your food, but also will allow you to eat less “bad for you” food since you are not filling up your plate with only unhealthy options.

5. Keep Exploring, Keep Discovering: College is a time of discovery, and while this cliche is well known it may be difficult for certain people to break out of their shell. The best way to combat this is just by constantly trying new things and being uninhibited. So go ahead, try out for the intramural soccer team even if you have never played, or sit with a random stranger and start a conversation, or go for that job interview. You just may find an awesome new hobby, make a great new friend, or score employment.

6. A Planner Will Save Your Life: I admit it: in high school, keeping a planner was kind of an after-thought. In college, though, through all your classes, extracurriculars, events, etc., it may seem overwhelming to keep a mental list of everything you need to do. Having a place where you can keep notes for important assignments, meetings, etc. can greatly help you stay organized and manage your time accordingly. On especially busy days, writing out an hourly schedule seems OD but it really is a life-saver.

While these tips are fairly universal at Rutgers, I do hope that at least one of them has opened your eyes to new possibilities. If you have any other additions, tips, or advice that has helped you (stay sane) at Rutgers or in school in general, please feel free to comment below!

Oh yeah, and never forget the P word: DON’T PROCRASTINATE!

Time Flies

I cannot believe that a month of school has passed, it feels like it was just yesterday when I sat down in my first college lecture looking all bright eyed and confused. It’s extremely hard to understand that I survived four weeks of school, especially after all the confusion of the first week. But now, I am pretty sure that I got the hang of things around here.

            My first college nightmare was my schedule. I’m not sure how everyone’s schedules were but mine was a complete mess. I used to have classes ending at 10:30 P.M., which was probably the worst since I commute and only have my permit.  The first day of the add/drop week, I stayed up until 2 A.M making all these elaborate options for my schedule…obviously that did not work out. Once registration opened, floods of students waited anxiously by their computers just like me to get the timings they wanted. After experimenting and shifting classes the entire week, I got the perfect schedule (I have no classes on Fridays!). My current schedule contains none of the classes I had on September 1st but I’m super happy with it considering the mess I was during add/drop week. I believe I am more prepared for Winter and Spring Registration (though I am not looking forward to it).

            My second biggest problem was the busses at RU. To be honest, the busses aren’t that bad at all. But I’m horrible at boarding onto busses, getting of busses and anything to do with busses in general. It also doesn’t help that I am the biggest klutz with no sense of navigation whatsoever. Luckily, after my many schedule changes, my classes are mostly on either College Ave or Busch which means I just have to watch out for the A bus and its timings.

            Lastly, I came into school expecting to not have any fun at all. My first week of school was so chaotic that I actually believed the rest of the year would have been like that too. Thankfully, everything has slowed down and I’ve been able to have some fun. Recently, I even went to Manhattan and Harlem with the Honors Program and had a blast. We toured MalcomX boulevard, roamed around Central Park and visited the Strand Bookstore. I’ve also mastered the art of meeting up with my friend in between classes and exploring campuses with them. For example, my favorite activity in Douglass is running through the bridges by Hickman Hall with my friends (this is probably not safe…do not attempt!)

            It has been a stressful month, but everything has started to fall into place. I hope everyone else is also getting adjusted as well as I am. While everyone is dreading the season on exams and midterms, I’m just glad that I made it through this month. Let’s hope October is a good one!

Taking a Moment to Celebrate

Rutgers University is considerably quiet regarding the awards and honors of its professors and researchers, despite the surmountable octaves recipients reach in both prestige and quantity.

            It is well known that Rutgers is a research university, but further inquiry on students may be answered with vague statements or “Ummm”s. Being a research university obviously implies faculty researches a lot, but Rutgers deserves a better label. Rutgers is an esteemed research university.

            In this past month eleven professors have been either awarded or honored for their work—more professors than a student may come in contact with in an entire year. Jimmy de la Torre, a professor in the Graduate School of Education, was named an honorary professor at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain and at the National Taichung University of Education, Taiwan. Yuri T. Jadotte and Susan Salmond were the first to receive a recognition award at the Joanna Briggs Institute Methodology Symposium’s debut. Alexander V. Neimark was saluted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for research in nanotechnology and the permeability of materials. Kevin Lyons of the Rutgers Business School received a New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award for research in environmentally sustainable purchasing.  Paul Breslin, Michael Chikindas, and Loredana Quadro, all received a prize for innovation from EVONIK Industries’ Competition for a Novel Technology for Taste Masking. David Shih, associate professor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is a co-winner of the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers. And Stephen Eric Bronner had an award created in his own name this month by the American Political Science Association to honor a political dissertation that exemplifies an endeavor to create a better world.

              The list could conquer pages and pages if one considers the work of recipients earlier in 2015 and those who will be honored in the upcoming months. Unfortunately students may not only be unaware of who these academicians are, but also of the brawn in Rutgers University’s research muscle.

            This is not to say that the university does not give credit where credit is due. An admirable quality shared among all those listed above, and those who should have been listed if it weren’t for page length, are motivated by their field of study, not fame. There is an irony in receiving an award: the bigger it is, the less to flaunt it. And that principle somehow makes a recipient look all the better. Our university isn’t only be skilled in research performance, but also in its humility.

Health and Wellness at Rutgers

It has been sometime since my last post and by way of explanation, I was struck with a terrible upper respiratory infection! My biggest fear in coming to Rutgers (okay, not my biggest fear) was what would I do if I became sick? Well, as I sit here now in perfect health, I can attest that Rutgers’ health services–and the health insurance, covered all of my needs. Whenever placed in a new environment, one is bound to find out that illness is always a possibility. I was sitting in my class and I noticed my throat had become sore, my head heavy and feverish. Sure enough, I got home (I’m a commuter) and began to notice a cough. Searching the copious amounts of paperwork and information I had about using Rutgers health services, I called their number (848-932-7402) and made an appointment. Within two days I was seen and hade recieved some antibiotics. I ended up only missing one class and after discussing my ailments with my professor and offering a doctor’s note, I was excused and provided with some work to do at home. (Remember, if under the weather, always provide a doctor’s note, this is essential to being excused). Long story short, there is nothing to worry about when coming to Rutgers and getting sick, as they provide easy to use health services and best of all, no copay at the health centers! I find that Rutgers does everything to make the student feel comfortable and healthy. Until next time!

Food Journey Part 2

So this Friday, we decided to try the Kati Roll place on Easton Ave (right next to Mamoun’s Falafels). My friend and I were in desperate need for some comfort food and after looking up Kati Roll on yelp, we weren’t expecting very much. The reviews talked about the poor service and food that gives diarrhea, but we decided to give it a shot anyway.

Let me tell you – best comfort I’ve ever eaten. I’m scared to say that I think it tasted better than the Fat Sandwhiches (please don’t kill me). I got the Achari Paneer Kati Roll and the Chicken Keema Kati Roll. I liked the chicken keema one better (spicy ground chicken) than the achari paneer (an indian cheese – it’s delicious), but both were beyond delicious. My friend also loved her aloo paneer one (potatoes and the indian cheese). If you haven’t tried kati roll’s before, you can expect it to taste something akin to an Indian burrito, but ten times more flavorful and savory.

The price was pretty good too – 2 for $10 and trust me when I say that 2 are plenty to keep you full. The place is a hole-in-the-wall type so don’t expect much from decor. I haven’t tried any of their platters yet, but I can definitly vouch for the kati rolls. My suggestion – go with the chicken keema one!

I’m definitly going back for more…so if you guys are in the area you should check it out too!

Beating Procrastination

          In September, it seems that students always do their homework, study for tests, get involved in extracurricular activities, and still find time to hang out with their friends . Albeit most of these students crash and burn later in the year, they end up having an awesome first month of school.Unfortunately, I lost my motivation after the first few days of the semester. September has been filled with late night studying, commuting to and from school, figuring out the chaotic bus system (which includes embarrassing myself by falling every time the bus driver hits the brakes!), getting lost often and trying to figure out how to stay on top with my school work and personal work.

          Earlier, I sat down and told myself that I cannot continue with procrastinating. I’ve realized procrastinating is giving yourself the power to ruin your life for no reason at all. I’ve had a pretty rough start but I’m ready to get on track. If you are like me and need some motivation for your uninspired, gloomy soul, here are some tips below.

1) Stop, Drop and Leave– Instead of moping at the library when you’re stressed and overworked, drive around in a neighboring town or go somewhere new. Being away from stress inducing environments, can improve your mood and spark motivation.

2) Less Mess -Less Stress– Clean your desk, take out the trash, maybe buy some cute stationary. When I clean, I automatically feel productive and less confused. The less scattered my textbooks and notes are, the more my brain feels neat and tidy.

3) Try Pomodoro-If you’re like me and have a huge pile of work but don’t have any idea on where to start, try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer (or get the Pomodoro app) and work for 25 minutes straight on the item that has the first due date. No distractions. No excuses. If the time is up and you’re not done, you don’t have to continue but you most likely will trick yourself into it. 

4) Have Self ControlIf Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr distract you easily download SelfControl (an OS X application which blocks access to websites for a predetermined period of time). The best thing about this is that it cannot be undone until your time period expires. There are many other applications like Self Control, so check them out!

5) Power Nap-A lack of sleep is a significant cause of fatigue and stress. You’re health is more important than pulling an all- nighter and feeling like a zombie the next day. The best time to take a nap is from 1-3 P.M. Power naps should be around 20-30 minutes to have the best results. With the proper nap, you’ll wake up refreshed with a memory boost and motivation for increased productivity. Happy Napping!

R U Ready? – A One Month Reflection

As I sit here in the basement of Katzenbach Hall, at a time of the night I would rather not admit to (but the time stamp will probably sell me out, anyway), I began to feel quite introspective over my past month here at Rutgers University. Overall, I would have to say that my transition into college life has been confusing, slightly overwhelming, a little bit challenging, but overall exciting and auspicious. After a year of being the “top of the pack” in high school as a senior, starting at square one as a freshmen can be a bit sobering. Four weeks ago, I was as fresh as they came, wide-eyed and prepared to fill my blank slate with plenty of new experiences. Of course, I was nervous about several aspects of college life, including making friends and whether or not my Christmas lights would match the rest of my room. My primary mindset, however, was to get ready to make the most out of every day ahead of me. I was a sponge ready to soak up whatever Rutgers University had to offer me. I quickly realized, however, that being “ready” to soak up what Rutgers has to offer is not enough; one has to be actively looking for things to absorb. 

 

Right away, the freedom and independence one is granted as a college student is quite exhilarating. It can also be frustrating and a completely foreign experience for many. Two summers ago, I took a college course and lived on campus for a month. I suppose it was a little bit loaded to think that my month there would directly mirror my month here. While both instances are comparable, and I have to say I was a little more prepared for the “college experience,” being a full-time freshmen was evidently very different. For example, class here is almost incongruous to how class was run in high school. A professor hands you a syllabus delineating all your required readings, with a message not too different from “here is your mission, if you choose to accept it.” While you may have class discussions on a specified reading, there are no “benchmarks” or reading checks. No one is going to be there making sure you have your planner filled out; all of your study time is in your hands. That is why I urge all of you to develop good habits as I have learned (the hard way) that even falling behind a few days can have pretty severe consequences. While this may seem obvious, time management IS key in college, and leaving everything to study for the night before will probably not get you that “A” you so easily received in high school. 

 

Time itself is a huge factor in the freedom you are granted within college. At a glance it seems as though you have so much of it, but you quickly realize that the time is moving much faster than you think. Do not let this scare you: I am willing to bet that you will have time to study AND be part of that acapella group you wanted to join. The trick is to be smart with your time. Personally, I came into Rutgers wanting to do a multitude of things. I was heavily involved in high school and thought that being part of the musical, leading the literary magazine, being part of the Model U.N. and Mock Trial Teams, and tutoring on the side would all be things I could continue. While I am sure there are some people who can “do it all,” I definitely did not feel that I was well-situated enough into school yet to spread myself out too thin. Instead, I settled on my top three interests: global concerns and politics (RUMUN), artistic expression (Honors Program Artists Collective), and women’s issues (Douglas D.I.V.A.S.). I knew that RUMUN would be a huge commitment, so I settled on one commitment-intensive organization for my first semester. I encourage everyone to go for what they love to do and get involved, and to not feel badly if they have to trade-off. You still have plenty of semesters ahead of you to try new things, but I do suggest starting off with at least one thing you see yourself being a part of for a long time to develop a strong commitment to that particular organization. 

 

Going back to the idea of actively looking for opportunities on campus, the idea of “claiming an education” is one that I have been taught of very often as a Douglass Woman. No one is going to be there making sure you attend interest meetings or reminding you to study, YOU must take initiative of your own responsibilities. It may be a little difficult at first, especially with the obvious distractions brought upon by the college environment, but everyone is capable of making the most of their time. I am not saying that I have not made mistakes in terms of time management, because I have, but I do find something as simple as keeping a planner or calendar really helps you stay focused and organized. Asides from classes, there are so many interesting events on campus that I find myself wanting to attend. By placing those dates even months in advance, I can make sure I have my other obligations done early that day so I can attend these wonderful presentations and activities. 

 

Now you may be thinking, “Okay, I get it, manage my time, but what about fun?” Do not worry, you will have fun in college if it does not find you first. Being part of DRC, I was so thrilled to find a community of students who shared my passion in women’s rights and leadership. I was able to make a lot of friends so far just from shared interests and casual conversations. In terms of more exciting kinds of fun, there are all sorts of events on campus from concerts to football games to Coffee Houses to all sorts of fraternity and sorority events. I cannot be your weekend-fun liaison as of right now since I have been home all of my weekends, but from what I have heard a weekend at Rutgers is never dull. 

 

The point is, you can manage all your school work, be involved, and still have time for fun. It is all about balance in college, a cliche you have probably heard a lot but I am realizing more and more to be true. Sometimes, however, it may be difficult to find this balance, and being a first year can sometimes be a little lonely. It is totally okay if you have not found your “crew” within the first week- chances are, you will meet many of people every day and you will just find yourself with those you really connect with. The important thing is to keep an open mind and be nice to everyone. Remember that everyone is also in your shoes, and that there is something for everyone here at Rutgers whether you are a sports fanatic or a slam poetry superstar. Just be smart about your choices, and do not forget to add a little fun to your schedule, and your start can be a positive one. 

 

Also, I believe I have found a way to fight the Freshmen 15, but I will keep you all updated on that as the months go on. 

Hustle and (BUS)tle

The semester is already flying by.  Through the hustle and bustle of exams, here are a few tips to keep us all sane as we try to rush to our destinations.

1. Don’t take up seats for your belongings.  Unless the bus is basically empty, be considerate and don’t take up space with your backpacks, especially if people have to stand because there isn’t any room.

2. Apologize if you bump into someone.  Yes, this is inevitable, the bus will be crowded and people will have to stand.  The bus will turn and poeple will lose their balance.  Please be considerate and kijnd enough to apologize for smashing into the poeple around you.

3. Greet your bus driver.  Bus drivers spend all day driving around in circles trying to ensure that all sudents reach their destinations promptly and safely.  The least we can do is take a second to brighte their day by saying a simple “hello” upon entering or a “thank you” when exiting.  Don’t forget that everyone has long, hard days, not just you.

With this in mind, good luck on exams!  Don’t forget to make Rutgers a niecer, easier place for all of us.

Five Things You Can Learn from that Bus Ride with Random Strangers

If you’re anything like me you tend to stare at people while riding that REX-B in the morning, not because we’re creeps, but because it’s simply human nature to make eye-contact with people who sit around you. But one thing I’ve noticed is that every bus ride is an adventure, a microcosm of RU. If you’ve ever actually looked around you, the bus is one of the most diverse and interesting representations of our Rutgers community. And there’s so much you can learn on that 10 minute bus ride.

1) We’re all incredibly different

This may sound cliché, or even obvious, but we are all so different. I challenge you to find someone on the next bus ride that is exactly like you (and your friends don’t count!). Every person on that bus dresses differently, has a different way to pass time, has a different book in his/her hand, is listening to different music, and has a different destination and/or origin.

2) Books are socially acceptable and are actually quite normal

If you listen to music or send bus selfies to your friends, that’s cool. But don’t be afraid to pull out a book you’re reading for pleasure, or homework that’s due in 10 minutes. Everyone has things to do, and the bus and those riding it are completely accepting of studying and reading.

3) Wearing shades doesn’t stop people from noticing that you’re staring

I sometimes wear shades when I want to avoid awkward eye-contact with strangers, I’ll admit it. But let me just say that sunglasses aren’t walls. People will still catch you staring at them, and that will still be awkward. By all means, wear those shades if it’s sunny outside, but I wouldn’t count on them for privacy.

4) If there’s a seat that everybody is avoiding, it’s probably wet

This one doesn’t need much explanation, but don’t ask someone if you can sit in the seat next to them if everyone seems to be avoiding the seat. Buses DO leak, and the seat is 99% wet.

5) A crowded bus is actually a great way to make new friends

At first thought there doesn’t seem to be anything even remotely great about a crowded bus. But you’ll be surprised by how many nice conversations I’ve had with people due to the fact that I’m basically stepping on their feet the entire ride. Yes, these rides aren’t pleasant, but they don’ t need to be uncomfortable. Become friendly and make the most out of a busride.

I consider every bus ride an experience because each one is different. You’ll never be on the same bus with these very people again (atleast not at Rutgers). So you can stay on your phone, or you can put it away and enjoy the experiences that make our school great.

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