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#NovembertoRemember: Drama Drama Drama

20 Nov

Musicals, operas, orchestra performances, all of these things have been very important to me throughout my life. I remember watching my first musical, The Sound of Music, when I was 5. Since then, I have been obsessed with everything musical. Unfortunately being in college has put a damper on my passion. I do not have the time or the money to go to shows like I used to. Luckily, the UofA offers a discount to students who go to student performances!

This past weekend I was able to attend a performance of the operas “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Enfants et Les Sortiliges” put on by the UofA. Opera is not for everyone, many people get annoyed by the constant singing and the lack of English, but for those who really enjoy opera, this was a great one! I don’t know about y’all, but I constantly find myself avoiding friends to finish homework or to get a little time to myself. Luckily I had a few friends who wanted to go to this as well, so it was a way to socialize too!

I always forget how much I love theater until I return to it. I was always the spectator, and I have never really had any desire to be an actor, but watching these performers reminded me how amazing people are. In today’s society, it is east to say that the arts are underappreciated which is why I try my hardest to attend events and support them. These operas were fairly short, they only lasted about two hours total, but they were enough to help inspire me, and in a month like November, I can use all the inspiration I can get!

-Chrissy

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#OutrageousOctober: Just Journaling

28 Oct

This October, I decided to tackle the one thing that scares me the most: introspection. That’s right, this October, I made it all about me. For someone who spends most of her time thinking about other people or school or anything that does not involve thinking about her own feelings, this was absolutely terrifying. I decided the best way to make this month about me was to write about myself, so I tried journaling.

Journaling was much different than I thought it would be, I started off by going out and purchasing a journal, hoping if I liked the journal enough it would encourage me to stick with it. Finding the journal was easy enough, but once I was sitting in my room staring at the paper, I found that I had nothing to say! I started off with my day and hoped I would get the hang of it. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I was uncomfortable with addressing my feelings in such a blunt way, and everything I put down sounded whiny. I still persevered, but it did not get better in the following days.

In the end, I did not enjoy it. I realized the reason was that I was trying to force myself to do something that I would never do. I know that it is good to get out of your comfort zone, that is pretty much the purpose of these monthly blogs, but this was too far outside of my comfort zone. I am not someone who talks openly about my feelings, I tend to have internal observations about them, but putting them out on paper made me feel very uncomfortable because others then had access to them.

Perhaps I will try something similar to this in the future, but maybe I will try a more internal method, or a different form of writing other than straight prose. Maybe poetry or song would better represent my style.

All in all, journaling was not a complete waste, I found the edge of my comfort zone and I now know what limits I can try to push as I mature in my life!

– Chrissy

#StudiousSeptember: Letter of Recommendation Stress

26 Sep

There will come a time in your life where you will have to ask someone for a recommendation, whether it be a boss, or a professor, it will still be one of the most intimidating things you will do. This is because they literally can make or break your endeavor. A good recommendation will go far with a potential employer or graduate school, but a bad one could be the reason you are not accepted.

So the real question is how can you make sure you get a good recommendation? The truth is, you can never really be sure. Most professors will not tell you what they write on your behalf, so you are never REALLY sure what they have said about you, but that does not mean that you can’t lay the ground work for a good recommendation. Here are 5 tips that I have used to get a good recommendation letter.

  1. Actually talk to your professor
    • This might seem like an obvious tip, but many students are intimidated by their professors. If you can’t make it to office hours, try staying after class or emailing them. If a professor knows your name, that is a good sign!
  2. Try working with them outside of sitting in their lectures
    • Try taking on independent studies with them, or preceptor one of their classes. This will give them something other than the one class you have had with them to talk about in the recommendation. It will also show them that you are a well-rounded student.
  3. Always be professional and polite
    • This is extremely important, especially in today’s culture when people are very casual in addressing professionals. They have earned their degrees and should be given the respect of that title. While some professors do not insist you call them by their last name, you always should. Also, making sure that your emails are formatted in a professional way will carry far with professors.
  4. Make sure you tell them what your goals are
    • How are they supposed to recommend you for something when they don’t know what it is? Make sure to have a conversation with them about your goals and what you hope to get out of this experience. This will help them format their recommendation.
  5. Let them know what you do besides study
    • It should be very clear to them already that you are a hardworking student, but letting them know what you do outside of class can help them get a better understanding for who you are.

It is very important that you start building these relationships in your first year because a professor who has known you for four years will be able to write a better recommendation than one who has known you for maybe a semester. I have recently asked three of my professors to write recommendations for me, and they have all let me know that they would be delighted, so start as soon as you can!

– Chrissy

Essential Essentials

15 Aug

Here you go, off to college, finally going to be on your own! You have probably been waiting/ dreading this moment all summer, but now it’s finally here! Here are a few things that we think are essential for Wildcats to bring to make living away from home comfortable.

Residence Hall

Living in the residence hall is an experience unlike any other. You simultaneously get a feeling of immense freedom, followed by slight suffocation. A common mistake first year students make is bringing too much stuff all at once. Trust me, you do not need your entire semester’s stock of food in your room the first day you move in. Try to plan your meals ahead of time, that way you know exactly what you need to buy at the store and nothing goes bad.  You also don’t need to bring pots and pans because you will be able to check them out from the front desk in your residence hall. But you will want to make sure you have dish soap and sponges to clean your borrowed equipment. The biggest thing to remember when living in the hall is the importance of preserving space, so instead of bringing your entire wardrobe with you, try to bring clothes that are seasonally appropriate and swap them out as you need them. Having a printer in your room will be welcome, but you’ll want to find a small one because space is limited!

Apartment

Living in an apartment is completely different than living in a residence hall! You will again be tempted to bring absolutely everything you own to your new apartment, but you should think about that first. While this new space is larger than a shared room in a residence hall, it still has a spacial limit. You should try to coordinate with your new roommate(s) for kitchen items such as pots and pans, dishes, and storage containers. It gives you an opportunity to reach out to your roommates before you move in and prevents you from having to buy, pack, and lug all of your own stuff. No one needs three sets of pots and pans! If you are living in a student apartment, chances are it comes furnished. If you aren’t, then that will be another necessity for you to think about.

The overall theme here is don’t get carried away. Bringing too much stuff to your new place will make it feel crowded and messy, and no one wants to live in that! Leaving some of your stuff at home will also make it nicer when you visit!

-Chrissy

Prepping Makes Perfect

7 Aug

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, that includes summer. As this summer ends, why not make sure you are as prepared as you can be for next year? Last summer you were probably freaking out about what you would need for school, but this time you are much more prepared! Here are some helpful ideas on how to prep for your second year!

Figure out where your classes are…before the first day

This one might sound a little odd, but it really does help! The first day is stressful no matter what year you are in. Not only do you have a new Professor with their own teaching style, but you are receiving all your syllabi on the same day! This can be  vastly overwhelming, and any way you can help relieve that stress will be good!

Plan out your meals

This is something I always struggle to stick to. Often after I plan them out, I don’t feel like eating that meal on that day, but after all my classes it is nice to know exactly what I will be making for dinner. Additionally, if you are able, try to invest in a Crock-Pot or another type of slow cooker. This will allow your meals to cook while you are in class so that you can come home to a cooked meal! You can also use the left-overs for lunches for the rest of the week!

Actually use a planner

You will be reminded of this every semester. Planners are a great way for students to plan out their time and feel like they have a little more control. I cannot use a traditional planner because I never remember to check them or write things down, but I do utilize a teacher’s desk calendar. I take all my syllabi at the beginning of the semester, and write down the important dates and assignments. This allows me to see what I need to do for the entire month so I can plan ahead. You don’t have to use the portable planners, but you really should have some method for staying on track.

Have a designated cleaning day

This is super important for all students. There are points in the semester that you will feel like you have no time for anything else but school, but this is an unhealthy way to think. Letting your living space become too dirty will distract you, and cause your work to suffer. Additionally, cleaning is a great way to clear your mind for a little bit, it is very important to maintain balance.

Make sure to have some fun

While we are at college to learn, remember to take some time to have fun. Now I am not saying you should go out partying all the time, but I am saying that you should take some time to treat yourself to dinner, or read a fun book, or just hang out with some friends on the mall! No matter what your fun entails, make sure to have some!

-Chrissy

 

Goals: Not Just for First Year

24 Jul

Freshman year is finally over, thank goodness! No more term papers, no more exams, no more 8am’s! Life is pretty great right now, and you’ve got this college thing all figured out…or do you? First year came with a lot of challenges, that is definitely true, but could Sophomore year be just as hard if not harder than first year? Honestly? No, it most likely will not be as challenging socially as your first year was, but it does have its challenges. Provided are four issues I faced during my sophomore year, and some solutions to each.

The after college problem.

The after college problem is just that, trying to figure out what you want to do AFTER you get your degree. Most of Freshman year was spent figuring out what you wanted to study. Sophomore year is the best time to begin this journey because you will have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do, and the steps you need to get there. If you are trying to go straight into the work force, you can begin building connections with people in that force. If you want to go to Grad School, you can begin volunteering and internships.

The scheduling problem.

Last year, you probably blindly took the classes you needed not paying any attention to time or location. This year though, you are wiser, you have experience and you definitely DO NOT want another 8am! Unfortunately, not all the classes you want to take will be at an ideal time. One huge part of Sophomore year is compromise. You need to compromise based on what is most important to you: do you want the ideal professor, time, or place. If you are really lucky, you might get all three, but in all reality, you will have to give up at least one of them.

The extra-curricular problem.

Now that you have the hang of balancing school work and having a social life you want to throw in another curve ball…why not join a club? Joining a club adds on not only stress but also fees that you might not be aware of. I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t join a club, I strongly believe that they are a pivotal part of the college experience, but you need to make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. Make sure the club is something you are interested, if not, then you are just throwing money away.

The apartment problem. 

Ah, apartments. The defining moment of college life, moving out of the dorms and into your very own apartment. You have everything you could want, your own bathroom, plenty of space, and best of all…three random roommates? Moving out of the dorms is a big step, but make sure it is one you are ready for. Do some research, make sure it is near campus, or has a shuttle. Check out the apartments, get a tour. See if it comes furnished, see if there is a pet policy. Try to meet roommates ahead of time so you don’t end up living with a stranger. With independence comes responsibility, so make sure you are ready for it!

You may have all, some, or none of these issues during your Sophomore year, but all I am saying is be prepared if it is not as smooth as you think it might be. With all that being said, Freshman year was fun, but Sophomore year is the best, so make sure to enjoy it!

-Chrissy

What’s One More Language?

8 Jul

To the eyes of a child, summer is the epitome of freedom. There’s no school or homework, they can sleep in and not have a care in the world. Unfortunately, the older a person gets,the more they wish they would’ve done during those long glorious summers. I am not going to sit here and say that I have utilized my summer to the max and not wasted a single minute, because let’s face it, I have spent a good amount of time vegging out in front of my T.V., but I have also begun something I vowed to do three years ago: I am teaching myself German!

Some might ask why I don’t just take German as my second language in school, but as it stands I am already taking both Greek and Latin and adding anything else onto that would be too much (trust me, I tried it).

Why German you ask? Originally it was because I really liked the way it sounds. I also figured it might be easier to learn since English is based off of it, I was wrong in this aspect. It did not hurt that I was informed I would have to learn it in grad school, and so learning it now would provide me with a leg up!

Actually learning the language was interesting. I found a surprising amount of similarities between it and Greek and Latin, this was a relief since I know those languages. As with all languages, the hard part was the vocabulary. I am an audio learner, and so not having an instructor was hard. This was more of a problem because unlike my other two languages, this one is not dead! While I feel like I am starting to understand the language, there is quite a bit more I need to do before I am proficient, none the less, I am proud of the progress I have made and I think I will keep casually learning the language!

Auf Wiedersehen zur Zeit! (Goodbye for now!)

-Christine

Chrissy’s Summer Reading List

10 Jun

Summertime,  the most relaxing word a college student can hear, say, or think. Summertime opens up a plethora of opportunities that are not available during the school year: sleeping until 1pm, going on random road trips, and of course reading fun books. I don’t know about y’all, but I find that during the school year I am way too busy reading the various assigned readings to  actually get any fun reading done! So, I made a list during the school year of all the books I would like to read during them summer and I am now steadily working my way through them! Here are my top 10 books that I would like to have read by the end of the summer. I included short summaries of the books that I found on the publishers’ websites.

Please note that most of these contain adult themes and violence. Please read at your own discretion. 

10. Ella Enchanted: Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.

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9. Dracula: Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

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8. The Blood of Flowers: Anita Amirrezvani

Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, The Blood of Flowers is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of Persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers has captured readers’ imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman’s struggle to live a life of her choosing.

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7. The Iliad: Homer

Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace

The iliad

6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.
Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

Do androids dream of electric sheep

5. 13 Reasons Why: Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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3. Brave New World: Aldous Huxley

The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future- of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley’s most enduring masterpieces.

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2. The Other Boleyn Girl: Philipa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

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1. Poison Study: Maria V. Snyder

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.

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Vacation vs. Staycation

12 May

Every summer I am met with the same struggle, should I spend a ton of money going on a vacation and having fun with my friends, or should I stay at home and work. Let’s be honest, usually I stay home. Not only do I not have the money to go on vacations, but vacations, at least mine, tend to be more trouble than they are worth.

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It doesn’t matter who I go with, whether family or friends, there is always so much drama that I would not have had to deal with if I had stayed home! I don’t know what it is about vacations, but they tend to bring out the worst in people. This year though, I have decided to brave the dreaded vacation, but only for a weekend. I am going to go to California for 3 days with a few friends, and hopefully it won’t be a huge mistake.

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Usually though, I have a staycation. For those of you who do not know, a staycation is a vacation you take without going anywhere. I tend to be a bit more strict with my staycations than most, I don’t allow myself to use social media, I do not watch T.V. shows that are currently on; instead I re-watch classic movies, I get caught up on books, and I sleep and sleep and sleep. Now, my staycation only lasts about a week because I take summer courses and work, but for that one glorious week I have no worries and no one can bother me. I am not trying to say that you have to do your staycation the same way I do, that’s the beauty of the staycation, it differs for every individual!

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The rest of my summer is usually spent working and taking classes which for some is not relaxing, but having the same routine I have during the school year is quite nice for me. I tend to take online classes so I can do my homework by the pool or while watching A League of their Own for the thousandth time, and work tends to be a bit more relaxed in the summer, so in the end I do have a nice relaxing summer.

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Now, whether you choose to vacation with family or stay at home and relax there, just make sure you do relax a little bit this summer. Students really do need the time to reenergize themselves.

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-Christine

#AdventurousApril: Archaeology Adventures

18 Apr

April is one of the hardest months in the school year. Everyone is ready for school to be over and yet there is still a ton to do! Added on top of all this is registration for classes, which inexplicably comes with thinking about the future.

Personally, I have always known what I wanted to do both for my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree, but suddenly out of almost no where, I was not so sure. Essentially it started with my school tour last month. It got me thinking about things, always dangerous, I know. What it really came down to was that I did not think I could be happy being a Professor for the rest of my life, not that I did not want to teach, but I did not want to do research (a big part of being a professor).

Equipped with this new-found information, I had a decision to make: what the heck was I going to do now? I had come into college with a sure-fire plan of what I wanted to do, and now here I was at the end of my JUNIOR year with no idea about what I want to do?! So, I did what anyone would do: I stayed up all night watching Ted-Talk videos trying to come up with a semblance of a plan.The videos actually ended up helping because during one of the videos, I heard someone talking about classical preservationists, who preserve ancient artifacts. I started researching the requirements for this job, and it turned out that all my hard work in my undergrad would not go to waste! I would need the exact same classes that I had already taken, so I was not as hopeless as I thought I was.

The truth of the matter is that most students will change their minds about what they want to do sometime during their undergraduate career, it is just a fact of college. As we grow as people, we find out more about our interests and limits and have to adjust for that. If you find yourself in my shoes, with no idea about what you want to do with your life, don’t fret. Start researching, do some personal digging and figure out what interests you. Take a class that sounds interesting, you never know… maybe Psychology is your thing, maybe you were born to be a Criminologist!  Whatever excites you, go for it!

Christine Ellis