Reading

Free Time in College

April 20, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

It’s hard to believe that college students even get a moment to breathe, but I think it’s important to always find a way to make some time for ourselves, even if we have to force it. Unwinding at the of the day and forgetting about the 6 papers and 3 tests we have in the upcoming week is a necessity if we want to stay sane. But when we are lucky enough to find free time, we have absolutely no idea what to do with it. It’s like a foreign way of life to to have time on our hands. To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of ways in which I personally spend my free time when I have the chance to.

What is free time?

What is free time?

Exercising: Sometimes initially getting yourself to workout is difficult, but the feeling afterwards is so rewarding. It relieves so much stress and instantly puts you in a better mood, making you feel more energetic and overall happier. One of my favorite workouts is Insanity because I can do it from the comfort of my own home without having to drive anywhere. The workouts are all relatively short, yet still so intense! Going for a run outside is also a great stress reliever. You get to enjoy the outdoors while also burning calories and keeping those legs in shape.

Shopping: Shopping is a definite hobby of mine, whether it’s online or in store. It’s impossible not to take advantage of the local and affordable boutiques around the city of Tallahassee during my free time. They’re always offering the latest styles and affordable clothing for college girls on a budget. This is probably my number one stress reliever after a long week of tests and papers. Retail therapy, anyone?

Netflix: I’m sure you saw this one coming. College students are known to have a love affair with Netflix, and we’re certainly entitled to having one. There’s no better way to unwind at the end of the day than binge-watching a thousand episodes of Friends. But make sure not to overdo it, or that homework will be put off for a very long time. Hint: Avoid the phrase, “Just one more episode,” at all costs.

Go out to eat: I love going out to dinner and treating myself to a good meal, especially on weekends. Getting dinner and drinks is perfect on a Friday night either with friends or for date night, either at a local burger joint or Mexican place.

Take a nap: Let’s face it. College is absolutely exhausting. On top of classes, we have endless amounts of homework to complete. Sometimes the most tempting thing to is simply to take a nap and catch up on the sleep we’ve lost throughout the semester. Trust me, no one’s judging. Any extra amount of sleep will feel like a huge bonus to you. We frequently start to wonder to ourselves how we ever resented naptime in Kindergarten!

Homework: As someone who hates the stress of procrastinating, I’m always getting ahead on my work when I have the chance to.  All of the professors tend to make the major assignments and tests due around the same time, usually mid-semester and at the end, so it’s better to get ahead of the game rather than losing sleep for an entire week straight and drinking endless amounts of coffee. You’ll feel much more relieved when that week rolls around to know you’re not squirming to complete everything in one night.

Sporting Events: FSU football games take up most of my free time throughout the fall semester on weekends, but during the spring, baseball games are also fun to attend! Sporting events are always a great choice for taking advantage of the awesome school spirit here at FSU.

Read: Reading is so underestimated and probably one of the most relaxing things you can do, especially for us English and Writing majors. Read a good book and your mind will certainly be taken off the upcoming paper you have due on World War II.  You will gain such an emotional attachment to the fictional (or nonfictional) characters that it’ll be impossible to put it down.

Reading is so underestimated!

Reading is so underestimated!

Go to the pool/beach: I love going to the pool, sitting on a lounge chair, and reading a fashion magazine. Even though FSU is located in Florida, the beach is still about 40 minutes away, but many students will take a day trip to the beach and soak up the sun. Me? I personally prefer the pool in my apartment complex that’s 100 feet from my door, but it’s all a matter of opinion!

So, yes, us college students do have free time. It may not be as often as we like, and we may have to force it every now and then, but that’s why it’s important to take advantage whenever we can!

Mastering your English or Psychology major

September 25, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Career, Top 10 Lists

Choosing a major can be a difficult and daunting task; it can be a challenge to combine your hobbies, interests, and talents, and channel them into one specific field. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a variety of classes in different subjects, so that you are exposed to all kinds of disciplines. If you decide to major in either English or Psychology, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Learn to love reading!

Learn to love reading!

1.    If you don’t already love reading, learn to love it.

This applies to both English and Psychology; be prepared to spend hours each week reading books, textbooks, articles, statements, you name it. Though it can become tedious for even the most avid reader, if you enjoy reading then you will be able to appreciate the texts you are assigned more (and you’ll probably be able to read them faster than the average student).

2.    Be prepared for the essays.

This is especially true for English majors; if you are taking two or three English classes a semester, then you’ll not only be reading a couple hundred pages each week, but you’ll be writing tons of papers about those short stories, novels, or poems. Though psychology classes usually incorporate tests, there may be writing involved as well – especially if you’re taking a class about research.

3.    Write. Write. Write.

If you’re majoring in English because you want to pursue a writing career or journalism, then you have to make time to write. Your language and writing won’t improve if you don’t practice, so you need to set aside time to produce work.

4.    Find an internship.

Internships are the best way to gain experience and knowledge about the field you want to pursue. Not only do they help your chances of finding a job after graduating, they may also show you a specific field you don’t want to work in. If you work at a magazine, you may find that you dislike editing and turn to designing or to revising other genres/types of work. In psychology, you may find that you really hate working with kids and that you’d rather focus on developments in adult psychology. Internships will help hone what you really want to do.

5.    Be ready to work with people

Both English and Psychology require interacting with other people; learn to communicate and know when to step up or take a step back. It’s important to know how to listen to other people’s ideas but also to advocate for your own.

6.    Don’t get discouraged.

To those of you who are writers – your work will get rejected and torn down innumerable times. Don’t get discouraged. Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep improving your writing.

The same goes for those in psychology; you will take classes that cover a huge amount of material and concepts that seem to go right over your head. The best thing to do is to go to your professor and talk with classmates – the best way to see if you actually understand something is to explain it to somebody else. Also, if you’re doing research, many of your experiments will prove insignificant. That’s normal: you have to weed through hypothesis’ that are irrelevant in order to find ones that truly make a difference.

7.    Don’t think about the money.

This applies to every field: don’t pursue a career just for the money. The economy and job security are worrisome for everyone, but it’s better to do what you love for a less amount of money, than to be well off and dreading each working day. Money may bring comfort, but it doesn’t bring happiness. Remember: you may have a job in the field you choose for life, so make sure you choose something you will be excited to do each morning.

A career you love > money

A career you love > money

 

What to Do with those Rare Moments of Free Time

June 30, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

During the school year, free time is like an exotic animal that rarely comes out of hiding. When the creature does show itself, it almost takes the viewer a moment to realize that what they are seeing is actually real, rather than a mirage. The same goes for free time – if I have a moment of respite from homework, exams, and meetings, I always have a nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something. However, when there truly is some “down time,” I usually end up engaging in one of these activities.

Spending time with friends

Having a solid, if not thriving social life is an important aspect of college and life. This doesn’t mean you have to be wildly popular or try to be friendly with everyone, but it’s important to have a few close friends that you feel comfortable around and whom you like to spend time with. Although we tend to gravitate towards the people that we share interests and backgrounds with, college is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone. Friends can push you to try new things, discover a new passion, and experience something you otherwise wouldn’t have. Take advantage of free time to spend time and catch up with friends!

Reading

Though I’m guilty of not always following this advice myself, I’m working on being more diligent with reading for pleasure. There is so much literature out there; we don’t even begin to scratch the surface in our relatively short lifetimes. Nevertheless, there are numerous texts that everyone should have read – they’re called “classics” for a reason. It may be difficult to motivate yourself to pick up Don Quixote, The Great Gatsby, or 1984 after a long day of classes and homework, but after a while, it will become a habit, and your mind will thank you. Chic flicks or “easy reads” like The Hunger Games are a great way to give your mind a break as well, but the classics will expand your intellect and propel your academic and “everyday” knowledge.

Exercise

Exercise is crucial for both health and mental acuity. Numerous studies have shown that exercise improves memory and attention span, while reducing stress and slowing cognitive decline in old age (http://www.edutopia.org/exercise-fitness-brain-benefits-learning). 30-60 minutes are only a mere fraction of your day – take that time to go for a run, do some yoga, or take an exercise class at your school’s gym.

Listen to Music

Sometimes it’s best to just sit (or lay down) and zone out. Like with classic literature, I would refrain from listening to popular songs/tunes and instead try listening to some classical or calming music (I personally love Enya). Take this time to really listen – what do you hear that is different from the rap, techno, or country that you listen to? Most people say they dislike classical music but don’t have a reason other than “it’s boring.”  Classical music is anything but boring; it’s full of subtlety, dynamics, and beautiful lines.

Watch TV

Sometimes you just need an image on a screen to entertain your mind. TV shows or movies are a great distraction because they provide your mind with all the information it needs (unlike books or music). Starting a new show can be dangerous because you may end up binge-watching, but it’s still a fun way to give your brain a break. (I recently finished “Sex and the City” and lately, I’ve been hooked on “Orange is the New Black”).

Above all, enjoy your free time! Find something you love doing, but don’t forget to try new things as well!

Is English the Right Major For You?

June 25, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus

bookshelves

So you want to be an English major? Good choice! But take my advice, don’t just jump into it without being prepared. Here’s how to know if English is a good fit for you:

  • Think long and hard:

It probably goes without saying, but choosing a major is a process that requires a lot of effort. You’ll want to put serious thought into the decision. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, and remember that your strengths and your interests might not always completely line up. An English degree is surprisingly versatile, but it won’t prepare you for everything. Copywriting/copyediting, publishing, education, marketing, communications, law, creative writing, and technical writing are just a few broad fields that English majors find themselves in after graduation. Although these are not the only options, think about where you see yourself in a few years–do these sorts of jobs appeal to you? Be honest with yourself when you are making your decision.

  • Know what the degree requires:

Obviously, an English major is going to be expected to read and to write copious amounts of text. If you dislike either one, you’re going to hate studying English. Nevertheless, just because you like to read books doesn’t mean that an English major is necessarily right for you either. The major requires the ability to think critically, to analyze, and to generate a reaction to assigned texts. The same goes for writing–your writing skills will constantly be put to the test with short essays, long papers, and analyses about literature, poetry, literary criticism, and more.

  • Be flexible:

You’ll have to be flexible and open to trying new things when you’re an English major. There are countless genres and eras of literature that an English major is assigned every semester, and you’re bound to dislike some of the assignments. Whether you hate contemporary literature, or despise medieval period texts, get used to it–you’ll be forced to read, analyze, and write about every type of text! You’ll likely even have to take entire classes dedicated to genres or time periods that you can’t stand in order to fulfill degree requirements. It can seem like a drag, but in the end, you’ll have a wider range of knowledge, and you’ll be a better thinker overall.

  • Don’t be afraid:

English majors often get a bad rap for being unemployable or unskilled, but these couldn’t be farther from the truth. The unemployment rate for graduates with an English degree is no higher than some stereotypically employable science fields, and the degree is applicable to a far broader range of jobs than many other degrees. English graduates walk away with incredible critical thinking skills, and are able to analyze and communicate well–these skills are useful and desirable in so many fields. Should you settle on an English major, there will indubitably be people–adults and students alike–who tell you that you are pursuing a useless degree, or that you will never get a job after college. Please don’t listen to these people! Only you know where your true passions lie, no one else knows you like you know yourself. If an English degree is something you genuinely want to pursue, don’t let naysayers steer you away from your dreams!

Majoring in English

June 13, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career, Colleges

 

English Student

English Student

You already read on your spare time. You want to write poetry for a living. You’d rather write papers than take tests. You want to be a novelist. You’re really trying to avoid math requirements. You’re going to be an English teacher. To someone not majoring in English, these are the only possible reasons for someone taking up the major.

There is a general stigma around the major that implies its students are either just taking it because its easy, or they are blinded by passion and will eventually end up jobless and broke selling freelance poetry in the Boston Common.Every time I’m having a conversation with anyone about school, after they ask my major and I respond a rehearsed- “English with a concentration in professional writing”, I find myself 1000% sure that within the next few seconds I will be explaining how I’m not planning on writing books or teaching kids.

The truth is there are many ups and downs to taking English as a major. If you’re trying to be an English teacher or poet, it will work out great. It’s also a great major if you’re trying to be a technical writer, an editor, or a marketing editor. At the same time it will hold you back from getting many other jobs that require degrees in other fields. You’re not going to get out of school with your English degree and become a nuclear physicist. (Although you could always go back to school in a few years and try something new).

The degree is what gets you in the door.

An English degree says “Critical thinker who excels in communication, efficient writing, and analytical reading”. These skills are essential in the majority of companies that you will wish to join after senior year. Without proper written communication both amongst coworkers and to customers, there would be a bad public image and a failing business. So, if you are confident enough in your work ethic and ability to improve a company, then it’s just a matter of time until you get your foot in that door.

Passion, hard work, and networking are what get you into desired positions.

I met the (now former) Head Editorial Director of Putnam in the Financial District of Boston, and he went to grad school for journalism. Nobody’s first job is their dream job, and in fact, many peoples’ dream jobs change a month after they land it. But, once you’re in the door, your output means everything and your degree title means nothing. Making the extra effort to reach out to coworkers will help you in a variety of ways, especially if you find yourself in between jobs. The more passion you have for your job, the easier it is to work hard at it and improve your skills.

So if you don’t mind writing a lot of papers throughout your college career, you have a knack for reading, writing, and critical thinking, and you’re prepared to explain your choice to baffled acquaintances for the next few years, look into English as a major. In the process you’ll avoid any high-level math, and if we’re being honest, that’s up there with the best additional perks of the degree.