Lessons from Sophomore Year

Sophomore_Graphic-01As I mentioned in my previous post, Sophomore year of college was quite the doozy—the Spring semester especially. It seemed that I was constantly either at work or doing my homework, with very little time for socializing or sleeping. Several times I felt extremely burnt out and spent a week in bed watching Netflix, dissociating, and not getting much of anything done. As is life.

Between that though, I managed to learn a thing or too. Here’s some of that wisdom:

When they say “overloading” they mean it. At my school, overloading means going of 18 credits, fairly easy when each class is typically 4 each. During the spring semester, in order to graduate on time and go abroad, I decided to take five courses, including two writing courses. Writing has always been my academic bread and butter, but first and foremost quality writing requires time, and between the heavy course load there was little of that to go around. I felt I could have succeeded in either class, but instead I was stretched far too thin and ended up doing mediocre (for me) in both. Hopefully that’s the last time I have to take that many classes again.

Transferring, while worth it, isn’t easy. I would 100% advocate to anyone thinking of transferring schools. However, the process of getting credits sorted and schedules arranged is certainly not easy, and you have to be ready to advocate for yourself. I sent quite a few emails (including one to an assistant dean) appealing, questioning, and begging for a handful of credits to go through. However, doing so prevented me from taking redundant courses in science fields, something that will only be useful for the required credit and never for my career. Speaking of appeals…

Ask. Appeal. Repeat. At any college, especially a large university like mine, there are layers of bureaucracy to get through. There’s always someone to email, always a form you can fill out. You’d be surprised the benefits you receive when you just bother to ask someone for something. For instance, I appealed my financial aid several times throughout the semester, and while it didn’t drastically change my financial situation, the process resulted in several thousand dollars in new grants. A drop in the ocean, sure, but it’s money I didn’t have before and don’t have to pay back. People are also often willing to bend the rules a little or help you out if you take the time to ask them (and be polite about it!).

More than 20 people have been born on Antarctica. Apparently Argentina is pretty serious about their claim. 

Unhappy? Change something. Transferring is one of the best decisions I ever made, but more than that, I took charge of my own happiness. I wanted to try to be more active in making friends instead of laying at home every night (did actually make that many new friends? Not really, but I did try!). I signed up for things outside of my comfort zone, like being a tour guide for the university. I applied and was accepted to be an RA next year. Making money makes me considerably less stressed, so I got a job (though that came with its own problems). On my way home from campus I would have to cross a bridge that spanned that Mass Turnpike, and everyday I would cross that bridge, look out towards the city, and feel truly privileged to be where I was. So incredibly happy to be someplace where people are as passionate, motivated, and engaged in their projects as I am.

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Make Your Dreams Come True

Wow! Imagine when my surprise when I went to look at my stats and saw an unpublished draft– you know, that thing I meant to post on Friday. Cue resigned sigh.


 

Hey Abs, see you missed another post. Yeah, I know. I’m sorry! April is just a totally busy, stressful time of the week. Next week I have a project, a presentation, and a paper due three days in a row. I’m trying here.


On Monday, I got accepted to my dream school. Second time’s the charm, right? I’m a current college freshman, not a senior in high school. I applied as a transfer from the university I attend now, in Philadelphia. As a matter of fact, I applied to my dream school last year but go wait-listed.

Applying was an incredibly stressful process. Being a freshman is already stressful enough, being homesick, adjusting to a new place, trying to find friends, and balancing workload with activities. It cost a lot of money, money that I didn’t really have, had to scramble to get a form sent in at the last minute, and then I just waited. For a month. While everyone around me was finding places to live next year and registering for classes. I was totally committed to going somewhere else.

But, hey, turns out it was worth it.

Transferring is a hard process to describe, especially to the people around you at your current school. There’s a lot of “it’s not you it’s me” going around. It’s not the school– it’s the city for the most part. I actually love the program and my friends, but I need to be closer to home.

And there’s the fact that I could never quite let my dream school go.

I take my education very, very seriously. I worked hard and got accepted to a school I was wait-listed at in high school. I had the fortune to be supported by my mom and my closest aunt who encouraged me to follow my dreams. Even though the new school is much more expensive than the old one.

When I came to the decision, sitting in a lunch place with my mom, I was so scared.

I made my own dreams come true. Please, be brave enough to take a risk on yourself. Say, “I deserve this.”

Speak When Not Spoken To

The Importance of Participation
(And as much as I hate to admit it, group projects)

In a job environment, if you don’t speak up about your ideas, you don’t have them. In (most) job environments, every project is a group project. “Real life” is inherently participatory. It would be the utmost shame of the education system to not prepare students for this inevitaHermioneHandUpbility.

I think about this because I saw a post on Tumblr (insert sigh) about how teachers/professors should not grade participation. About how this user was so frustrated that their grade was dropped because they did not speak in class even though they did good work. About how educators should always facilitate persons with anxiety.

I am sympathetic with this cause– I had/have anxiety myself and used to dread public speaking. And of course, neurodivergents should be facilitated… to a point. What do I mean by that? Well, at least at the institution I attend, there is a disability policy, the kind of thing every professor has to put on their syllabus. There is a disability office and students can go there and have them contact professors on behalf of them and their needs (what qualifies for this is unclear– I think it’s intentionally left vague). Ok, that makes sense.

But a blanket statement like “you should not grade participation ever” is absurd. The world simply does not work that way. There should be room for all sorts of needs in the classroom, but quite simply certain needs cannot be met for someone who keeps them close to their chest. Maybe I will catch some flack for this, but if a person’s anxiety is not severe enough for professionals to say adjustments must be made, then they deserve the poor participation grade. Unless their is a serious disorder involved, and I hesitate to use this phrase but it is the only fitting one, suck it up like the rest of them. Or else the kids who just want to sail through a class period, be a waste of a seat, will be able to succeed alongside the people who work hard.  

Now, group projects. I hate them. Everyone hates them. And it hurts me to say that they are importance. Especially in a world where the farthest reaches are connected by the internet, everything is collaborative. Even crowdfunding can be considered a type of “group project.” Yes, it is always painful for your grade to be defined by the moron sitting next to you in an introductory class. But again, this is needed practice for adulthood.

The alternative is to hide away from everything, but what is the point of that?

What I Want Out of This Semester

My feelings regarding the spring semester are complicated, to say the least. I know now that I won’t be staying in Philadelphia past this year, something that had already affected my motivation. Especially in regards to coming back to Philadelphia at all. But what do I want from this semester, my final at this particular institution? Remember: goals not dreams.

Maintain my 4.0 GPA. It remains, as always, important to me to do well academically. It is also important for my transfer and financial aid prospects. Part of me also wants to prove to my sister that this success is something I can repeat. I worked intensely last semester to achieve this goal and goddammit, I did it! But does it mean anything if I can’t keep it going? Like a scientific experiment, do my results matter if I can’t repeat the steps and get the same result?

Take better care of myself. This is perhaps more of a New Year’s Resolution, but I don’t do those. I want to be a generally healthier person– and this does not just mean losing weight. Hell, I lost some weight purely on accident at the end of the semester, probably because I spent three weeks stressed out and rarely eating. It may sound strange, but I’m a little pissed because my favorite jeans don’t really fit anymore. Just when I was getting comfortable in this body, it went and changed. But being healthy is about not being exhausted going up the four flights to my room everyday. It’s about staying hydrated and giving myself a break. I also want to get back to doing yoga and, cautiously, going to the gym. Especially because I no longer have a roommate and don’t have to worry about anyone walking in on me. My class load is also less, so I know I have time.

Keep up the creative pursuits. This should be easy. I’m more motivated to write these days than ever before, and I’m in the process of writing some essays I think I’m going to be really proud of. They’re stewing around in my brain. I’m also taking a class on the creative suite which should help me get back into art, which I’ve sorely missed.

Bonus Things: Read and listen more (currently reading Capitalism: A Ghost Story and listening to Serial, the first season. Totally hooked). Be nicer to my skin. Floss.

Life’s A Hustle // First Semester Reflection

finals-week-graphic

By the time this is posted, my first semester of college will be over. My last final will be over, and I will have nothing to do until mid-January when the Spring semester begins. Over the course of these couple months I’ve tried to be as open and transparent as possible about my experience, but I thought I would make one final wrap up post.

College is not easy, freshman year especially. I think it’s important to be open about our college experience, because I’m still insecure when I talk to my relatives or acquaintances about my time here. Everyone says that college is the best time of your life but no one really talks about how difficult the early months or years can be. I thought I was pathetic for not constantly enjoying myself. I thought I was pathetic when I didn’t immediately fall in with a tight group of friends. I thought I was pathetic when all I could think about was going home.

Insecurity is an uncertain feeling for me.

Life is a hustle. In order to get far, to do something, you need to work at it. Hard. Find what you love and chase after it; don’t let anything else get in the way of your dreams. If there’s one thing I can definitely take away from my first semester, it’s that dreams mean something. They’re what inspire us, what we care about. My dad always says that goals are dreams with a plan. So take your dreams, turn them into goals, and start the hustle.

Everyone wants to hear about grades, because besides the “growing as a human” bit, grades are the most important part of college for many people. They are for me, too, so I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. School is my hustle, always has been. In fact, I can say that my education is the only thing I’m confident about here. I’ll be honest: I don’t like Philadelphia. The city rubs me the wrong way and I don’t feel like I belong here. Maybe it could, but that brings me to my final point:

Don’t settle. Don’t throw away your dreams (or goals!) because of boring logistics. If you have something you care about you need to take the risk, be it a financial one or distance or completely uncharted territory, and go. If you don’t, a part of you will always regret it, always wonder what your life could have been. There’s nothing more dangerous in life than regret.

What the Heckie I’ve Been Up To

photo 4 (1)

As you may or may not have noticed, I missed two posting days last week, Wednesday and Friday. Quite frankly, I was really overwhelmed the week before break and I’m overwhelmed now, the week after. All I had was seven(ish) days to, well, chill. Everyone needs to chill every now and again. I had yet to return to Maine, so everyone was trying to get a piece of my time and I was constantly busy. And then I got burnt out as introverts often do.

And then. Finals. Projects. Papers. Holy moly I’ve barely had time to think let alone write. This week I have three presentations three days in a row, two papers due this weekend, then finals the week after that. But hey, that’s college I guess.

My bus ride home from Boston Saturday night/Sunday morning was so crowded they had two buses completely full, and being on the aisle, I probably got two hours of restless sleep total. A bus from Boston to Philadelphia is six hours. Thankfully, I’m flying for Christmas. But then again, my flight is a day after I’m supposed to be out of the dorms, so it looks like I’ll be Airbnb-ing it for a night.

Basically: my life is a bit of a mess right now, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to come up with creative posts or even coherent sentences. I’ll try to do better for the rest of the week, with some study tips and motivational posts, and then next week I’m going on a bit of an adventure so stay tuned for that. I’ll try (really really hard!) not to miss another post from now on.

At least maintenance fixed my drafty window so I don’t have to wear gloves inside.


As always, if you liked this post, please like and comment. Cheers!

Life, in General

Short post today, probably for the rest of this week too. Have been feeling less than stellar lately. 


Time for some general life updates.

College is hard. It’s like, really hard and busy and sometimes a little lonely. Sometimes you just get massively overwhelmed and everything seems to be happening at once. It makes you want to go to sleep forever. That’s where I’m at right now.

By the time Thanksgiving break rolls around the semester will be almost over. That’s both good and bad because before I get to go home I have to do a lot of projects and finish a lot of school work. But after that I’m almost done! Hooray!

Philly is getting me down a bit. I’m going to try to get out of here some weekend.

Undeniably I’m doing well, though. In school maybe not so much in life. Unfortunately I have a lot of group projects coming up and I hate group projects because I’m always so focused on getting a good grade I just hijack the whole thing. They make me want to do bad things to myself.

I think it’s important to talk about when things aren’t perfect in life. It’s still important to get out of bed and take and shower and eat even if that’s all you do. So yeah. Life keeps on moving, I guess.