If You Know What You’re Doing, Don’t Listen to Anyone Else!

So the first week of school went absolutely wonderfully. I knew how to use the bus system because I practiced with my friends, I went to all my buildings and classes a week before school started, and I pretty much knew what I wanted out of my next three years of college… but people were telling me what to do like they knew what was best for me!

  1. Scheduling

For instance, since I am a biochemistry major with pre-medicine track, I know that I need to have my schedule a certain way in order to be 100% prepared to fulfill my major on time to graduate as well as be prepared for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). I was thinking about my schedule and the rigorousness of it since June. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. When I received my schedule that I was only taking Chemistry, I was worried. I knew that I needed to take biology and chemistry together. I already had expository writing, calculus, introduction to psych, FIGS, and Academic Mentoring… so why not just drop expos, right? Wrong. Expos is a pre-req for biology. Why? I don’t know, lots of reading I guess. So I had to drop something else. Psych and FIGS can easily be dropped! NOPE!  They wouldn’t let me do that for some reason. I ended up dropping Calculus (which I don’t care for because I’m good at math and it’s not heavily on the MCAT, anyway). But the advisors wouldn’t even listen to me when I told them that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. They brought me to four different advisors to try to explain to me that taking Expos, Calc, Bio, and Chem together is extremely hard. (The pharm students are doing it, what makes me different?). Little do they know that I actually took AP Calc, AP Bio, AP Chem and scored 3’s across the board. So I do know a little about each subject, I’ll just have to sharpen up my memory for each class and that’s it! Maybe they’re right. They’ve seen too many students fail taking all three of those classes together, but just know that you may be different so don’t be afraid to try to push your way through! They originally didn’t even want to add biology to my schedule which if you’re doing pre-medicine, you must really try to push for it! You’ll have to take 2-3 sciences/ semester in the future so you must knock them generals out!

2) Textbooks

ON TOP OF THAT… when you go to student orientation, many people will tell you not to order your books until the first week of class. Which I originally thought was a poor choice because I knew that I wanted to take all the classes that I had… but me putting trust into other people decided to listen to others (again!)… and didn’t order any books until the first week… BAD IDEA!!!! Professors were assigning textbook work the first week of class and I am now immediately behind in a ton of reading! I knew that I wanted to take all the classes I had but I just doubted myself because older students told me to! Don’t listen to any of that. If you’re 100% set, then do your own thing and order those books! They jack up the prices and it takes 2 weeks for books to actually arrive at your doorstep (Especially if they’re coming from Idaho and they don’t decide to ship until 10 days after ordering). Listen to mentors and upperclassmen but just remember that they may have been in a different position than you have been. They may not be as 100% ready as you are or as I am.

3) Studying

Everyone has different methods of studying. As of now, I could pretty much go through an entire Chemistry lecture without taking notes (that’s what I’ve been doing). I have been blessed with the wonderful Rajoo (she’s the best chem prof there is)… and I haven’t once taken a note in her lecture. But many people do because she does write very important stuff on the board! But like I said, I was an AP student. I know everything that’s going on (so far) and can do processes forwards and backwards. If you don’t want to take notes and you feel it’s not the best, you don’t have to! However, look out for the syllabus when it tells you how to get good grades! It may directly tell you to write all lecture notes because the exams may heavily involve what’s on the board! Just putting it out there!

 

All in all, I was satisfied but a bit angry for having been pushed around by other people and told what to do by “heavy suggestions”… I thought that I knew what was best for me… but in reality.. I know that I KNEW what was best for me. People don’t know the systems as much as you think you know it. IF you feel like you know what you want, go for it. Don’t let anyone stop you! They definitely put me a little behind!

 

 

First Week Of Classes!

Hi! I am Sakshi and I am an international student. I am from Mumbai, India and I am a freshman. So I just had my first week of classes and these are some of the thoughts I had :-

  1. Honestly I know so many people have already told you this but definitely get a seat up front. There are so many people in the class that you will get lost in them so sit up front and also helps to focus!
  2. Classes that you like will not feel like a burden. I already have the exam dates and assignment dates for my courses but because these are classes I like I am excited to actually do these assignments.
  3. LEAVE EARLY! You might arrive 45 mins before class but at least you are not late. For some classes arriving late might affect your attendance and while in other cases, the professor may not say anything but it just does not look good.
  4. Textbooks are gonna be quite expensive! If you can afford them great but if you cannot, don’t worry! There are Facebook groups, rental places and even libraries where you can get the textbooks that will be cheaper and most of the time you’ll need the book only for one semester.
  5. I know the classes seem intimidating because of their size but to make things easier maybe talk to the person next to you. The next class try to sit next to them and hopefully from there you’ll build a rapport.

     6. DON’T MISS MEALS! You maybe in a hurry and feel like there is no time but there              is! You will not focus in class if you feel hungry or feel dizzy. Maybe carry granola              bars around if you really don’t have time between classes.

Hopefully this could help you and I hope to keep updating you about my journey!

Key To Success This Semester!

The semester has started! Woo hoo! And I bet you’re feeling a little overwhelmed because I sure am. But don’t worry because today I have a few tips on how to make this semester and the rest of your semesters at Rutgers successful and stress free.

Tip #1: Organize! This is a major skill that everyone should master as they make their way into the real world. I wouldn’t have made it through my first two years of college if I didn’t organize my life and events. Everyone has their own method to staying organized, but I’ll share my secret with you guys; I use a planner! How old fashion, I know, but it works wonders. I write everything that its important in there, so theres no way for me to forget anything. I also jot down important events or assignments in the calendar section of my planner so I can plan everything on time and stress free.

Tip #2: Time Management!: Theres no way you’ll survive college if you don’t know how to manage your time. And trust me, if you master this skill, college shouldn’t be as stressful. Having a planner and jotting everything down is another way to master time management because you’ll always be on top of your assignments/projects/test and anything else college might throw at you. Doing things last minute is never fun, so it’s always good to plan your week. Maybe try to get your assignments done by Thursday or Friday so you can have the weekend to yourself! Waking up early and getting everything done is also another great way to time manage your life. You may not believe this, but waking up early helps motivate you to get more tasks done.

Tip #3: Relax!: You’re probably wondering, “How can I relax when I’m a college student??”, trust me it’s possible. If you follow the first two steps, I promise you won’t be stressed out. It’s also important to remember that we all make mistakes and that no ones perfect, so don’t beat yourself up when life goes left instead of right, you got this! College is meant to be a rollercoaster, it’s up to you to decided whether or not you’ll enjoy the ride.

 

Have a great semester, you guys can do it!

Explore Your Values with the Discovery Program

On Tuesday, August 29, after spending a few hours moving into a mostly empty campus – for the vast majority of Rutgers students, even early move-in didn’t start until August 31st this year – I headed to the College Ave Student Center with a duffle bag and a couple of friends I knew primarily from the GroupMe and a brief meeting at orientation back in late June.

My destination: the Discovery Program, offered through Rutgers Leadership and Experiential Learning, “a three day, two night immersion retreat that will take place just before you arrive for your first days at Rutgers.”

The first night consisted of an opening ceremony (including a deceptively delicious dinner – little did we know lunch for the next two days would be simple PB&J’s!) and lots of icebreakers. Hours upon hours of name games and rock-paper-scissors-split tournaments; one of our teammates actually tore his pants in the process of winning the later. By the time the bus arrived, though, we were all ready to go to bed.

In the interest of not spoiling the adventure for future participants – “It’s a surprise!” our LEx leaders kept insisting whenever we asked what was next on the schedule – I won’t go into too much detail, except to say that the Social Justice track’s 6:15 a.m. call time was brutal but worth the trade-off of spending the day in New York City, and that my friends on the other tracks – Community Service, Adventure Learning, and Sustainability – assure me that they endured similar necessary discomforts.

And yet none of it could even begin to compare to the scope of the day-to-day dilemmas we learned about: racism and classism, gentrification, food waste, and so many more. Of course we did what we could, whether through working to come up with sustainable solutions, physically serving the community, or simply starting the conversation with city residents. None of these things fixed the problem they were meant to address, but they were certainly better (i.e., more effective) than taking no action at all.

There were several group check-ins throughout, to discuss our thoughts regarding the various issues we were learning and observing and debating, and entire spectrums of opinions were voiced in response to each new topic. It was definitely mind-expanding to hear how others interpreted the same facts and personal interviews in completely different ways in light of their values and personal experiences, and I know that I for one had my opinion swayed on a number of subjects.

I’m sure everyone’s ultimate takeaway was unique, but personally I’ve definitely been inspired to devote more of my time to serving the greater New Brunswick/Piscataway community, which of course includes Rutgers itself as a smaller community, and to generally try to remain more aware and appreciative of all my own advantages and privileges. Considering how greatly our experiences influence our thoughts and behaviors, I highly recommend this one.

To sum up the program: My brain hurt and my body was sore and I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and it was all absolutely worth it.

For the Homebodies: How to Avoid Feeling Homesick

When I turned 18 this past July, nothing really felt different. It’s true that I am now legally able to vote, buy cigarettes (although I don’t plan to do so – don’t smoke, kids!), and sign my own medical forms, but I’m still the same clumsy, antisocial little fiend I’ve always been. However, what did change was that my emergence into society as a fully-fledged adult suddenly seemed to be drawing alarmingly close.

It was time, tragically, to say goodbye to those lovely childhood days of mindlessly going to and from school at the same time each day, having my parents nag me into shape, and being able to step barefoot into the shower at home without worrying about the complete lack of sanitation. As expected, we incoming freshmen have more freedom than ever before, but along the way we lost the privileges of being minors.

Miner

As I lay in bed last night, I started missing the comforts of home and family. My mother being the overprotective sort, I’d never spent more than a couple nights consecutively away from home. Also, the mattress was reminiscent of a brick. I wanted to run home right then and there.

Now, my friends, let me give you some advice on how to avoid a nervous breakdown and becoming a sobbing, homesick wreck.

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1. Bring a memento.

Turning over in bed for the umpteenth time, mattress springs creaking all the while, I happened to fling my rubbery arm against a familiarly, comfortingly soft and spongy object. It was Winnie the Pooh! It was my one and only, my faithful, beautiful Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh

There’s a funny story behind these cylindrical bears. I gave my cousin one of these little guys for his birthday a couple years ago. Nearly a year later, on my birthday, my older brother handed me a gift bag with none other than Winnie the Pooh inside. About half a year after that, my wonderful friends bought me a gift to cheer me up when I was having some issues. It was – you guessed it – Winnie the Pooh. I’m not done yet. A few months later, a friend gave me a birthday gift, and then there were three.

I had to laugh at the memory. I hugged Pooh and thought about those people and what I could do to make them proud (i.e. not run away from reality).

 

2. Keep in touch with old friends.

If you’re a teenager with a smartphone, you are probably already doing this. It seems completely reasonable. Yet, when I was a high school junior, I seriously considered throwing away all my old friends and entering college as a blank slate, with no ties to the past. This was such a good opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Thankfully, I spent my final year of high school appreciating the relationships that had taken so long to build, and they are now among my greatest treasures.

Texting my friends is something I’d done all the time back at home. Sending them Snapchats of random bits of my new college life is oddly calming. Still, the best part is when they respond with comments or their own snapshots of their own new lives. We’re together even though we’re hundreds of miles apart.

 

3. Participate in welcoming events.

Large parties? I abhor them with a passion. I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like loud music. Unfortunately, it is necessary for people to peel themselves out of their comfort zones in order to grow. You’ll learn to stand on your own two feet and grow a spine of steel. I’m sure you’ve heard similar things from several other people before, but it really is true. These events get freshmen to gather in a relatively small area, forcing them to infringe on each other’s personal space. And with that –

 

4. Make new friends.

Did you know that people are generally friendly? You could just be standing in line when the person behind you says, “Hey” and introduces him/herself. People will spontaneously approach you and ask your name and major. All you need to do is smile and not let the conversation die out (I’m not great at this). Sure, it might be difficult for some of you, but hey, if a shut-in like me can do it, so can you.

Make new friends and build a new family. You’ll be here for (probably) four years, after all.

 

5. Keep a journal.

I’m a very scatterbrained person, so I need a journal to help organize my thoughts and lock memories into my brain. Not only does this help me remember what happened, it distracts me from waxing nostalgic. Instead of “I really miss John, Jack, and Jill,” it’s “Today I met Tom and Jerry.” It might even be, “I just saw Dean Matsuda was dancing in the courtyard,” (true story). You start thinking about everything you’ll do tomorrow. You fall asleep smiling. Living in the present is a great way to forge a path into the future.

Journal

I have to admit that I’m being quite hypocritical right now. I left the Welcome BBQ after 15 minutes because (1) I couldn’t stand the party atmosphere and (2) no one was fighting for the shower. Also, I skipped the free football game because I don’t like football, crowds, or excessive screaming/cheering. There is an event going on downstairs, and I am in my room, alone, in the dark, blogging. Blogging.

Despite everything I just said, it is okay to spend some time alone. Otherwise, if you’re an introvert, you’ll implode. However, I think I will go see what’s happening downstairs. What about you?

Thoughts on Moving In

Yes, my clothes are color-coordinated, thank you very much.

Yesterday marked the beginning of my first four years at Rutgers. Because I’m in the Honors Program, I got to move in early and stay in a special hall with other Honors students. In reality, we have a reserved floor in one of the residence halls on each campus. I’m living in Brett Hall on College Avenue, which I love and dislike at the same time (I won’t say hate, because it doesn’t evoke a visceral anger within me).

In one way, College Avenue is in the center of everything at Rutgers. More often than not, there is some event on College Avenue. There is also a lot of historical and cultural significance on this particular campus which makes the history buff in my weep for joy. On the other hands, College Avenue is infamously known as the “party campus” which isn’t necessarily incorrect. It hosts a lot of fraternity and sorority houses and is a brisk walk to the hustle and bustle of downtown New Brunswick. Take that what you will. I personally like being in the center of everything, but not necessarily in the center of everything, if that makes sense. There’s a lot to do on College Avenue, so while I won’t be up late house-hopping between frats, I will be up late snuggled up in a library or restaurant with a couple of friends.

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My desk space. While I like to keep things organized, I also like to add a little charm to it (if you call hanging a picture of George Washington charming).

My room is a bit small for my liking, but it has a cozy feeling to it. Everything has its place and no space is wasted. If I had too much space I might be inclined to mess up my room a bit or slide around the empty space with my socks on with my roommate. Who knows. Besides that, my main focus isn’t of decorating my room but of my school supplies.

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As you can see, I like to organize my workspace. Every notebook has its own purpose, is color-coded, and is decorated nicely. Some might say that this is over the top, but I like to call it “organized.”

If I was being honest, when I moved in and had everything set, it didn’t hit me that I would be by myself for the next couple of months. It was only until today that it hit me. I didn’t know my way around, where to go, what to do, where to eat. It was a bit overwhelming, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Rutgers is such a huge campus full with different people from all walks of life with every opportunity at your disposal. It’s difficult to wrap your head around at first, and I still haven’t fully realized it. I’m still uneasy and unsure of where the four years at Rutgers will take me, but I know I’ll get through it. Right now I’m supposed to be feeling scared and frightened, but it will soon subside. I hope incoming freshmen and you, prospective students, remind yourselves about this.

Transition from Summer to Fall Semester

The fall semester is quickly approaching, being prepared is essential for making the most of the semester.  Beginning a new semester after a fun summer was always hard for me. I couldn’t transition back into being a student as quickly as I had hoped and it was wreaking havoc on my study abilities. Slowly but surely I found a few ways to lessen the stress of returning to school. Here are some of my top tips for a smooth transition.

 

  1. Print or photograph your schedule.
  • Having your schedule on hand is a great way to keep yourself organized the first few weeks of school. It’s hard to remember where and when you should be in class, so having it on hand will make things a bit easier when on the go. This also helps a ton when your cell phones internet access decides to go haywire just when you need it most.
  1. Buy your books early.
  • Buying your books earlier rather than later saves you the added stress in the first few weeks. When logging on to the Web registration website, you can find your entire list of required books and purchase them through Barnes and Nobles. If you would prefer to buy them elsewhere just use the ISBN provided to find them.
  1. Routine Change.
  • A week in advanced start adjusting your sleep schedule, work schedule, workout routine etc. Adjusting your routine ahead of time helps by keeping you well rested and organized.
  1. Summer Reading.
  • It’s a bit to start reading now but this is still a great tip to keep in mind for next summer. Read a book or two over the summer in order to keep yourself sharp. I personally do this every summer and I feel it prepares me for the reading assignments during the school year.

 

 

What to Bring When Starting College?

Most of you have seen checklists of what to bring with you when moving in, especially on-campus students. Beddings, table lamp, chargers, etc. You know what I’m talking about. This post applies to commuters, too, though, because compared to those checklists that you’ve seen, this may be a bit different. So, what should you have when you’re about to start college?

Confidence. It’s your first day as a college student! Yay! You’ve just stepped foot on an entirely novel road, and you’re afraid to take another step for there may be a pothole or it may be the wrong direction. But you’ll never really know if what you did is a mistake unless the event unfolds. The definition of a mistake is quite subjective, though. And as per the famous saying, “You learn from your mistakes.” The point is, if you think you did something wrong, take it as a learning opportunity (Only a selected few gets things right the first time. Good for them). This is your new world. Conquer it. Ask questions. Take initiative. Be fearless.

Self-efficacy. Just because you have time to procrastinate doesn’t mean you should. Just because you have a long weekend ahead doesn’t mean you’re going to put everything off till Sunday night. You think you’d have enough time, that you’d be done by the time you presumed. It doesn’t work like that anymore. At least not from my experience.😜 You’re going to have some chill classes, but there are also going to be those grueling ones. And you may also want to be involved in clubs and organizations. Time management is the key. Finish your assignments as soon as you can so you’d actually have the rest of the day to yourself. But, hey, whatever works for you to be productive.

Purpose. When you’re in your bad days, remind yourself why you’re here in the first place. Why are you here? What’s the purpose of being here? Don’t get too sidetracked by the littlest things. You didn’t come this far only to get this far. There’s a point why you’re doing what you’re doing, and whatever it is, it’s worthwhile.

Resilience. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” Sounds familiar? This quote is the epitome of college experience. You’re going to go through hardships and mishaps, but at the same time the best years of your life is happening right before your eyes. When you fall, get back up again, and remind yourself of your purpose.

I’m sure I missed some other things, but comment below what you think should be added to the list!

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