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The 5-MINUTE Cram-Sesh REFRESH Routine

7 May

“Okay, so I’ll study for chemistry until 3am, then I’ll sleep until 6am, wake up and study for calculus until my exam at 2pm. Then from 4pm to 8pm I’ll study for geo-sciences while I finish up that project with my group before I start editing my paper for English…”

We have all listed out these insane schedules at some point. Suddenly we see ourselves as the the 24-hour masters of productivity, equipped with endless energy, focus, and determination. Nothing will stop us! All we need is a few more hours!

We mean well. We’re just trying to get the most out of our study time after all. But we also know how these cram sessions actually play out.  In the end, our eyes start to droop at hour five, we have read the same sentence fifteen times, and our meticulously-planned time schedule has fallen apart, leaving us starving, sleep-deprived, and stressed.

Finals are already upon us, so that recommended three-week study plan is kind of out the window. You may have no choice but to enter into that cyclical nightmare of cram, exam, repeat. But, don’t worry! If you’re feeling sleepy, distracted, or JUST CAN’T EVEN during your study time, there are still some simple strategies you can start using RIGHT NOW to get you fresh, fueled, focused!

 (And if you tell me you can’t spare five minutes….well, I won’t say you’re a liar. But…well…you are.)

Your 5-minute Cram-Sesh Refresh Routine:

1. Go outside.

Did you know that natural sunlight energizes you? This is because it literally resets your brain. You can read about the science here, but it basically has to do with light exposure stimulating the area your brain that controls hormones, body temperature, and other functions that make us feel tired or awake.

So when you’re feeling sleepy, step outside and take a walk for a couple minutes. Yes, you actually have to go outside for this to work (fluorescent lights aren’t enough!). The added movement will also give your body an extra boost, leaving you refreshed and focused.

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2. Stretch it out.

I’m not even talking full-on exercise here (although that’s obviously ideal). I mean simple stretches that will get you out of the same hunched-over position you have been in for the last four hours. The best energizing stretches are the ones that:

    • Elongate your spine (even adjusting your posture helps!)
    • Open up your chest (more oxygen, means more wakey-wakey!)

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3. Talk it out.

Now, I don’t mean call a friend for an hour. That is what we call procrastination. But stepping back from your notes or computer screen to chat is an easy way to give your brain a break. If you really want to utilize this time well, here are some energizing topics:

    • LOL . Light-hearted conversation and genuine laughing boosts your oxytocin levels (the social trust hormone). This automatically will lower stress and calm you down.
    • Positivity. Here’s a trick. If you’re feeling down on life and that the world is out to get you, pretend it’s opposite day! People who regularly voice positive thoughts and gratitude in their lives, have been shown to live happier, more productive lives. Optimism: fake it, ’til you make it.

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4. Snack it out.

Another fun science fact is that when the body gets stressed, it messes with your serotonin levels (the neurotransmitter that regulates things like body temp, emotions, and cravings!) The number one craving? Carbs, carbs, carbs. Especially the sweet, salty, buttery kind that is oh-so-good on your tongue, but never seems to fill you up.

We all know that these types of snacks are bad. That’s not news. But there are some snacks that will actually satisfy those cravings and make you feel more alert. Some snack tips:

    • No need to be elaborate. Throw some fruit and nuts into a zip lock bag and call it a day.
    • Have options. If you’re planning on some quality time with the library for 4+ hours, you might as well look forward to a nice spread of yum-yums.

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5. Reset your environment.

If your plan is to set up camp a the library for days on end, you may want to rethink your campground situation. Sitting in the same place for hours and hours is unnatural for us (though you would think school would have prepared us!). But when it comes down to it, our bodies and brains aren’t meant to be completely still and focused on one thing. In fact, our natural attention span is about 50 minutes.

    • Set up your schedule plan to help your poor brain out by switching subjects or projects every 30-50 minutes.
    • MOVE spots. Similar to getting that sunlight exposure, a change of scenery essentially sets up your brain for new input (making new or old information easier to recall later).
    • Cut out the distractions. If you don’t need your computer, don’t bring it. Mute distracting noises like phones, Facebook notifications, and your best friend in the other room (how you mute them is up to you).

*Bonus Step: Power Nap. (But do it right.)

If you haven’t been getting enough sleep lately or just not enough quality sleep, this week is gonna be rough. Luckily naps can be a major help! Depending on the amount of time you can squeeze in for a nap, checking-out for 20 to 30 minutes can really recharge your mental, physical, and cognitive performance! Check below to see the different types of naps and the benefits of getting in just a couple more Z’s throughout the day!

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Good luck on finals, Wildcats! Stay focused and fresh!

–Franny Caputa

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“Going Off Script” with Your Education

25 Apr

If I’m remembering my freshman orientation correctly, we were all given pre-generated course schedules, quickly introduced to UAccess, and then told to change our schedule around however we like. Well, at first, that’s great! So much power! It’s our first real opportunity to make our own decisions and finally have some say in how we spend our academic lives. All good things for sure. However, if I am in fact remembering orientation correctly, I was also very confused, definitely on the brink of heat exhaustion, and so overloaded with information that I didn’t even know how to start. I think I ended up halfheartedly scrolling through some courses, swapping one gen-ed out for another, and then calling it a day. The result? A huge block of core classes with some pretty random gen-eds sprinkled in (at very inconvenient times of the day, might I add). It is only when you realize you have six straight hours of pre-calculus, English, and chemistry (don’t forget the lab!), that you realize you probably should have rearranged a few things for the sake of your sanity.

Making your perfect schedule is easy, said no freshman ever. It’s true. Priority registration can be a frustrating time. Maybe all the courses that you so carefully selected end up being closed by the time you register. Or maybe the only section available is at 8:00am and you don’t really enjoy taking economics with your morning coffee. Such are the qualms of a first year Wildcat. The good news? As you move up in the “registration food chain,” the more options and flexibility you will have with your schedule. Your job is to make sure you take advantage of it!

By now you have had a couple rounds of registration completely on your own. No pre-made schedule. Just you, UAccess, and your ability to strategize how much time you will need to get from Harvill to Modern Languages in time for your next class. Crafting the perfect schedule is an art form, really. But carefully selecting your classes isn’t all about convenience. It’s an opportunity to personalize your education!

There are 4 key components to individualizing your college career:

1. Shop Around.

Take some time to get to know UAccess. If your skills are only at “basic survival” so far, now is the time to familiarize yourself with all the different features of your main registration tool. Once you know all the different ways to filter your search, you can hone it to your specific interests, degree requirements, and preferred time frames.

Make sure to use your other main resource: YOUR PEERS. Your ears should be perking up every time you hear that someone is enjoying a class. Ask them about it! Why do they like about it? What’s the study load like? How’s the instructor’s teaching style? If all their answers sound good to you (and you trust the person’s judgement), why not try it out yourself?

For the most part, I only knew my most interesting classes existed because of word of mouth. We can easily get limited by our declared major when it comes to searching for classes, so it’s a great idea to ask people outside your college (especially upperclassmen). The good classes tend to fill up quick, so start asking around…

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2. Know Yourself..

Know when you are most likely to be alert, productive, and motivatedThen make sure to apply that to your schedule! I know. I know. Again, easier said than done. Sometimes there is just no getting around an inconvenient schedule, but being mindful of your personal (and biological needs–you know, food, water, sleep) is a big step in taking an active part in your life, rather than remaining bound to your academic demands alone.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that while creating a well-timed schedule is important, do not fall victim to convenience either! If you have been eyeing a really cool sounding course for a couple semesters now, (but it’s always at four in the afternoon), don’t miss out on it just because it’s at a less than ideal time! Balance isn’t about equality in every area of your life. It’s about weighing the costs and benefits, and carrying out your priorities accordingly.

3. Go Off Script.

Tools like Degree Search and Smart Planner are great for creating your four-year plan as they offer a general overview of your coursework and degree requirements. However, much like that schedule you were handed at your orientation, these are only suggested plans. You can look at them kind of like degree templates. The structure and relative timeline of your core classes (i.e. the required courses for your degree) are included, but when it comes to upper division credits, electives, and which semesters you take them, that’s pretty much up to you!

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4. Get Creative

Did you know that you can invent your own minor? Not every degree requires a declared minor, but if that’s the case, it doesn’t have to be a chore! It can actually be a great chance to take classes outside your major and be a little crafty with your education. These are called Thematic Minors.

The process for declaring a thematic minor is fairly simple. All you have to do is create a proposal that outlines courses from two or more subject areas and how they apply to a common theme. This is then approved by your advisor or college.  For instance, I was able to blend my nursing prerequisite courses with the coursework I had already completed for a linguistic minor. The result? I declared a thematic minor in biolinguistics. Fancy, huh? It’s a pretty cool way to take classes that seemingly are “just for fun,” and also get credit for them!

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The beauty of degree-seeking is that as long as you complete your degree requirements, the rest is up to you! You can explore other fields of study, gain experience through an internship, or even take up a fitness class. Take every opportunity to put yourself into your eduction and add in aspects to your education that are going to motivate and excite you.  That way, when you look at your four year plan, it’s not “I have to take another Tier II INDV,” it’s “I get to take a class on Werewolves and Vampires!”

 

–Franny

5 Steps To a Focused Finish

28 Mar

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Okay, so we all know we need some time to “recover” from our week of relaxing on spring break (#studentproblems, am I right?). I don’t know about you, but I have a few piles of neglected laundry to do and I probably should have gotten a head start on some assignments. Procrastination happens, but now that we’ve had a week to get back into the groove of things, let’s talk staying focused these last 7 weeks and finishing STRONG.

Because I will be graduating in May, this is my final semester here at the UA (hey, that rhymed!). That being said, my mind is constantly wandering elsewhere which means my immediate academic concerns keep taking a backseat. So if you’re feeling a little distracted, I feel ya, but have no fear! I have devised a strategic plan for us to get through this semester together and it even comes in list form (for those who respond best to information presented in the “BuzzFeed” format.)

Five Steps to a Focused Finish

 

1. Look it up. Write it down.

Remember that planner you got at the beginning of the year? Or…you know, maybe forgot to get? Now is the time to blow off the dust and put it to use. Also, while you’re digging around in your long-forgotten papers, find those syllabi!

It’s good practice to write down each and every deadline you receive at the beginning of the year, but now that we only have seven weeks left, getting those last assignment deadlines down is not only a good way to remind yourself about what you have coming up, but it also gives you a nice foreseeable timeline (with light at the end of the tunnel!).

Other ways to organize your dates and deadlines:

  •          Schedule it on your phone (with reminder notifications)
  •          Use Google Calendar
  •          Use sticky notes
  •          Make weekly to-do lists (and make sure to cross them off as you go! It’s sooo satisfying.)
  •          Use a whiteboard.
  •          Use your MIRROR (it’s hard to ignore things when they are literally staring you in the face…)

2. Prioritize

Okay, so now that you have all your to-do’s, dates, deadlines, and impending freak-outs (just kidding—you’ll do great), now it’s time to prioritize your tasks based on how much time they will require to do properly and how much time you actually have to finish them. Sounds like quite the process, but really it’s just about being realistic and disciplined with yourself.

  • First, identify which tasks are more “sit-down-til-you’re-done” types of assignments (i.e. math homework, quizzes, discussion prompts, etc.) and which are more like projects (group assignments, papers, presentations, etc.).
  • Second, consider all the outside factors that go into completing them:
    • are group members involved?
    • do you need to visit an instructors’s office hours?
    • will you need someone to look over your work?
  • Finally, consider all your personal factors:
    • do you know you work best in the morning? or in the evening?
    • how many editing days will you feel comfortable with?
  • And, moving on to Step #3….

3. Break down your time.

 Now, let’s get down to business. The key to an effective “master plan” is details, details, details. Now that you generally know when you need to be working on certain tasks, let’s break down each week, each day, and each hour. 

What’s that? You think that’s a little overboard? You bet your butt it is. And that is how we stay focused, team. Over-preparation. 

Thanks to Step #1 and #2, you now have your wonderful list of dates and deadlines, so let’s commit to a schedule!

  • First, map out a relative timeline for yourself. As you outline your “master plan,”  consider those external and personal factors that might affect your timing, determine which week and specific day(s) you plan to work on each individual assignment and how much time you foresee needing to complete them.
  • Second, write it down.
    • commit to periods of time that:
      • specify which tasks you are completing
      • when you will start and stop
      • how much you plan to have completed by the stop-time
    • Make it visual! There are many ways to organize your timeline, but here are just a few:

4.  Set Goals

Setting goals every step of the way not only automatically structures your time, it also keeps you from getting too overwhelmed!

For example, let’s say you have a paper, a bunch of little assignments, and an exam in the same week (ugh…you poor thing). Instead of cramming for the test, slapping together the essay, and frantically trying to complete the assignments all at the same time, setting specific time periods for each assignment has a built-in stress reliever (you get to stop once the time period is done, feel like you have accomplished what you set out to do, and move on to something else).

Tips:

  • make them specific
  • make them task and time based
  • completion shouldn’t be your only goal. Make sure your “progress checks” (i.e. finishing an outline, completing three math assignments, synthesizing data into a chart, etc.) are taken into account and celebrated, too!

5. Reward Thyself.

Don’t wait until you have finished an assignment completely to reward yourself! The beauty of your “master plan” is that you have little accomplishments sprinkled throughout each week. Obviously you shouldn’t go out for ice cream after you have picked out the theme for your PowerPoint slides. Let’s be judicious with our celebrations here. But keep in mind those mini “lights at the end of the tunnel” and use them to motivate you through these last couple of months.

 

So, yes. In the end it turns out organization and forethought are the keys to a focused semester. Not mind blowing, I know, but effective nonetheless. Take the time in between midterms and finals to get organized for this last push to the end. You will thank yourself later and yes….you get a reward at the end!

 

–Franny

 

Hot Off The Press! This week’s Wildcat Connections edition has arrived!

18 Mar

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Once we come back from Spring Break there are only EIGHT WEEKS LEFT of the academic year! That’s why this week we’re talking summer opportunities! The summers between your undergraduate years are important opportunities to gain experiences, develop skills, and network for the future! CLICK HERE to start planning now!

HOW TO: Have Fun and Not Die or Get Arrested!

7 Mar

Ah, the infamous spring break. A time for relaxation, sunshine,  fun, friends, and maybe a little family time. As a freshman, this is your first time experiencing this long-awaited springtime “holiday,” so let’s make sure it meets your expectations while also keeping you out of jail and, you know, alive.

Some of these safety tips may have you rolling your eyes, but the key to having a fun spring break is having it stay fun from beginning to end. That means keeping yourself, your friends, and those around you safe from what I like to call, “spring break self-sabotage.” (A.K.A. letting the fun get a little too out of hand.) Whether you’re traveling by plane, car, or just chillin’ at home with your dogs, check out these tips to have an unforgettable week off!

Let’s play “Choose Your Own Adventure:”

Traveling by Car?

Road trips are great ways to travel with friends and explore the country (or even your own state!), but the more distance you travel, the more unfamiliar your territory becomes. Here are some ways to make sure it’s a smooth ride:

  1. Make sure your car is good-to-go. Be sure to have your car serviced at least two weeks in advance of your trip. This will give you time to make any repairs or prepare for possible problems on the road.
  2. Also, equip your vehicle with emergency supplies in case you break down. Here’s a great list of tools and supplies to throw in your trunk before you leave!
  3. Make sure someone knows when and where you’re traveling and the approximate time they should expect you or at least receive a call from you. Take breaks to pull over and let them know the journey is going okay. This way, someone knows how to find you should anything happen along the way.
  4. If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and you can grab a nap without losing time. *Switch every 2-3 hours: this will give you all and opportunity to stretch your legs, regroup, and stay alert!
  5. Pack Snacks! This is the fun part (because…well, food is involved). Make sure you have an ice chest filled with waters and some nom-noms that will sustain you in between meals. (Lay off the sugary, fatty treats as those can make your energy drop faster than your gas level).

Traveling by Plane?

Woo-hoo! You’ve had your plane tickets for weeks and now it’s time to board and jet-set out of here! Traveling by plane can be a bit hectic. You’re losing and gaining hours, your luggage is bouncing back and forth between planes, and you may be landing in an unfamiliar place! Keep these tips in mind before you flip through your SkyMall magazine!

  1. If your traveling internationally, over-prepare and make copies of everything. Make a duplicate (or triplicate!) of your passport, photo I.D., flight itinerary…and pretty any documentation that proves “yes, you are supposed to be on that flight” and “yes, they should let you in (and out) of the country.” *Stick these copies in different, but safe and accessible places like your backpack, carry-on, and checked bags.
  2. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travelers decked out in J’adore Paris apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. Prepare for the worst, and make sure you have the bare necessities on hand!
  3. Know the rules, laws, and regulations of where you are going. Traveling abroad presents a lot of cool cultural differences and experiences, but with that comes some pretty different legal situations. Make sure you understand what behaviors are allowed and prohibited, because when it comes down to it,  the lowered drinking age in Mexico should not be the only thing you know going across the border.
  4. If you realize that you’re lost, don’t be afraid to ask. Hey, it happens. You’re in a new place and getting a little turned around is bound to happen. Locals will probably be more than happy to point you in the right direction and may have some insight into making your stay even better! *If you’re somewhere with a language barrier, try looking for an information desk or local authority.
  5. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. *Make sure you also carry some local cash!

Traveling by Foot?

Feeling adventurous? Whether your exploring new territories or just taking a hike on a well-know trail, make sure your trek is well-planned! There are a lot of factors to consider when going camping or hiking, but we have made this helpful list to get you in the right mindset before your big outdoor adventure. Here are some of our suggestions:

Know Before You Go

  1. Make sure you know the trail/terrain your are heading into. *This goes for knowing what sort of wildlife you might encounter and how to interact (or not interact) with them.
  2. Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back.
  3. Bring a cell phone for emergencies (and pictures, of course!)
  4. Bring the basics. Think about how much water you will need and double that amount. A small snack is also a good thing to have just in case.
  5. Protection from the elements:
    • Sunscreen
    • Hat/visor, rain jacket, etc.
    • Sunglasses
    • Make sure you have the proper shoes. *It may sound silly, but those sneaks you wear to class might not hold up in some terrain.
    • Bring emergency equipment like band-aids, aspirin, or other medications.

No Matter What You Do…

So maybe you have planned an entire week jammed-packed with doing absolutely nothing–and that’s the way you like it! Well, we all know trouble tends to happen when we get bored, so let’s make sure it’s the harmless kind. Here are some tips for those who are taking this week to just go with the flow…

  1. Plan something little for each day of break. Sure, the first couple of days of doing absolutely nothing is heavenly, but about half way through the week, you’re sleeping your day away, realizing you cannot take one more second of daytime TV, and grazing in the kitchen because you have nothing better to do. Make sure you make the most of your break! Here are some awesome ideas for those hanging around Tucson!
  2. Use the Buddy System. Whether you’re gallivanting off into the wilderness or just heading to the movies, take a friend!
  3. On that note, practice safe sex. Currently one out of five college students have an STD, and that is one spring break souvenir that nobody wants! Have birth control and condoms nearby, even if you think you won’t need it.
  4. Factor in some schoolwork. Okay, this one is more like a “college survival tip” rather than one that’s going to keep you from bodily harm and incarceration (which are the ultimate goals here), but keep in mind that your courses will be waiting for you when you come back! Take this time to get a head start on that research paper that’s due the following week, or start communicating with your teammates on that group project!
  5. Take care of yourself. In all seriousness, you’re an adult. You are going to do what you want this spring break. But you’re also smart. So act like it! Also, remember to relax and recharge for the next half of the semester. You’ve  been working hard, so make sure you keep up that momentum and finish STRONG!

Have a great, safe, and unforgettable spring break, Wildcats! And remember, don’t die or get arrested!

–Franny

(Facili-) ‘Tators Talk Travel

7 Mar
As a group, we must say that we Outreach Facilitators are pretty well traveled! And since we have traveled by plane, train, car, boat, hot air balloon, and just about any way there is to move, we’re basically experts. With spring break travel upon us, we thought it would be helpful to gather some tips for the new travelers among us! Here’s what we have to say about packing, planning, and peregrination (that’s a good word—you’re welcome).

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How do you know what to pack? What not to pack? What about TSA or international regulations?

  • Lauren: I always check the weather two weeks before I leave to get a projection of what will happen, then I make a list of things I want to pack. One week before the trip, I check the weather again and adjust my list…THEN I RELAX. Take a step back for a few days and daydream about the things I will be doing on my trip. Two days before I leave, I pack according to the  list and the daydreams.
  • Franny: When it comes to flying, help your future self out when it comes to the carry-on bag and try to only pack what you will absolutely need throughout your transit-time. It’s no fun having to separate a million things so that they can go through security. The people behind you get impatient, you get flustered, and it is much more likely that you will forget something in one of those bins! It’s better to pack the absolute necessities (wallet, book, music device, light jacket, etc.) and jam the rest in your checked bag.
    • As for TSA regulations and international restrictions, LOOK THEM UP. No one likes to get all the way to security only to have to go back to check the item or throwing it away entirely! (I don’t know how many tubes of toothpaste I have had to throw away). When in doubt, either ask the airline beforehand, check it, or just plan on getting it at your destination.

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What about international traveling? What should you keep in mind when it comes to vaccinations, health care, and laws?

  • Valeria: When traveling internationally it is always a good idea to have international health insurance. International health insurance is a precaution that you want to take when traveling to a new country. One that I have used in the past has been GeoBlue International Health Insurance.
  • Kaelyn: When traveling internationally, I think it’s important to take copies of your passport, driver’s license, and any other forms of identification. Keep these copies in your luggage or give them to someone you’re traveling with to keep. The last thing you want is to lose your backpack or purse and be stranded in a foreign country without any forms of identification!  It’s also important to make sure you bring enough cash or a credit / debit card that for sure works outside the U.S.  I toured Europe a couple years ago and the credit card I brought with me did not work internationally, so I was unable to withdraw any money.  I had to borrow money from my friend the entire trip, so make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

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What do you do when your travel plans go awry?

  • Lucero: Life happens, and sometimes it doesn’t happen in the manner you want it to. Experiences are all about personal perception. If things derail from the perfect plan, embrace the new direction! Make the most out of it. A new direction is always a new opportunity to expand and experience beyond your guided plans. Perhaps these new experiences will prove more notable and timeworthy. Keep an open mind to the possibilities and changes.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”–Laozi
  • Lauren: STAY CALM. If you get worked up (like I can tend to do) it will be harder to concentrate and think on your feet. It is so easy to get caught up in the what ifs, so make it easier on yourself and don’t even go there.

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How do you pick travel tunes?

  • Tori: It’s totally one of those things that you don’t realize is so important until you didn’t prepare! On my last flight, I had forgotten to make myself a fun, relaxing playlist to get me pumped for the trip and calm my nerves. As a result, I kept having to search through my phone to find the song I wanted next. Not cool. On the way to my destination, I usually have a few butterflies in my stomach, so I like to go with my favorite, soothing songs. My personal picks for this task – Weezer and The Black Keys. They keep me perfectly balanced between excitement and relaxation.
    • Use your playlist to set the tone for your adventure by choosing songs with the perfect beat to express what you want this trip to be – whether that’s relaxing slow songs, upbeat stuff to get you pumped up for the thrill ahead, or anything in between!
  • Lauren: I like to listen to the music of the region if I am traveling out of the country.
  • Franny: Okay, this may sound a little nerdy, but I like to load audiobooks onto my phone. For some reason, reading books during flights makes me incredibly sleepy, which is unfortunate because I find it really difficult to actually fall asleep! And for road trips, forget about it. I get carsick by the time I’ve finished a page. With audiobooks, I can close my eyes, relax, and throwback to my kinder-days when someone would read me stories!
    • I use the Audible App. The first month is a FREE trial and you get a free audiobook when you sign in with your Amazon account.
    • PRO TIP: do you have reading for an assignment to do? Well, if you know you’ve got some travel time coming up, invest in the audiobook version…hey, you’re just bringing a new dimension into your learning, right?
  • Kaelyn: Road trips can be tricky if you’re traveling with a group. Who gets to choose the tunes? Well, I’ve found that the best thing to do is think about it beforehand. Have each person contribute and set a rule that there is no making fun of another person’s choices.

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How do you make plans with others?

  • Vero: I always find myself to be a perfectionist. This is the case when planning vacations too. When I travel with my friends, I usually put everything on a Google Doc and then share it with them. This way they can all see what the plan is and add comments accordingly.
    • Franny: to add to Vero’s awesome idea, go ahead and make a “driver” schedule, too! Who is going to take the first shift? Who’s the lucky duck who gets the awful 2:00am-5:00am shift? Whoever is in the front passenger seat should also be prepared to keep that driver talking, singing along to music, or whatever it takes to keep them alert. If you know you have a long trek ahead of you, consider each other’s abilities to be safe drivers during less than ideal times.
  • Lauren: I am a big planner, but sometimes it is better to have the foundation/skeleton of a plan and fill it in when everyone is there. No one likes to feel left out and/or labeled the decision maker for the group. Go with the flow, but have a general plan to fall back on.

So, you’re in a place you have never been. Now what do you do?

  • Tori: Find someone friendly! When I flew to Denver (my first flight by myself!), the grandmotherly woman next to me on the plane was so nice and offered to let me go with her and her husband to find baggage claim. Then, my shuttle driver had some awesome suggestions about what I could do in Fort Collins since I’d never been there before. If you’re new to an area, don’t be afraid to ask the locals for their advice! Most will be more than happy to help out!
  • Lucero: The beauty about not knowing your location is the possibility of what you can find! Get out there and explore! Don’t be afraid to get lost. That’s how you find your way and get the most memorable experiences! Every location I have ever traveled, I’ve gone out and explored on my own. The thrill, mystery, and the knowledge of knowing you are somewhere new is definitely worth every second!

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What if your plane get delayed or canceled?

  • Valeria: Always purchase insurance on your ticket, just to be safe.
  • Franny: I recently had this happen because of a crazy snow storm! About an hour before my flight, I got an email that my departure flight AND transfer flight had been cancelled. If you find yourself stranded like I was, the first thing you want to do is talk to an airline representative. They have the entire system at their fingertips and are likely to know the ins-and-outs of flying dilemmas better than you. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have to find a creative way of getting home–and that sometimes includes a little detour. I ended up having to hitch a ride to Baltimore instead of flying out of Washington, D.C. Depending on the urgency of  your situation, changing airlines, airports, or cities altogether is an inconvenient, but effective option!

What do you do if you don’t speak the language and you get lost?

  • Tori: When I was in high school, I went on a trip to England with 10 other students and our two chaperones. We spent our last day before coming home in Paris. Since we had a very limited time, we were running around the whole time. In that one day, and really it was only 12 hours, we saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, walked along the Seine, visited Notre Dame. Well, we were so caught up in everything that we missed the bus that would get us to the location of another bus that would get us to the train station. So we ran for it. We were looking for an opera house and could not, for the life of us, find it. With limited time, we started asking everyone we could for help. It took awhile, but eventually we found someone who spoke Spanish, and someone in our group was able to  communicate that way.
    Maybe not the best way to handle that sitch, so I would definitely suggest learning a few key phrases or bringing a phrase book. Even if you’re speaking the language horribly, they’ll appreciate the effort. Also bring a map so you can resort to charades if need be!

What if I’m a picky eater?

  • Hannah: When you visit a different country, you have to be aware of the fact that local markets may be significantly different than what you’re familiar with at home. When I visited Spain, I was surprised that peanut butter was nowhere to be found. They also left milk and eggs unrefrigerated, which freaked me out at first! I was pleasantly surprised at the number of accessible markets that sold fresh local produce, homemade cheeses, and handmade pasta. Every time I ate out, almost everything I had was not what I expected when I ordered it. Hamburgers tasted different, there was fish I had never heard of, and they used a ton of olive oil and a variety of seasonings. I certainly did not like everything I tried, but I’m happy I branched out and experienced dishes special to the country.
    Varying food preferences are part of the culture. You may encounter unfamiliar cuisine and you may find it difficult to adjust at first. Immerse yourself in the culture and let your taste buds experience something new.

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#FearlessFebruary: A Love Story

20 Feb
This month each and every one of your outreach facilitators was encouraged (well actually ordered by our boss….but lovingly so) to figure out a way to step outside our comfort zone, push our own limits, and to document our moments of bravery. This has been an interesting task so far.
It is difficult knowing what challenges you in the first place, but determining how far you are willing to go and evaluating what would be most meaningful for you are challenging tasks in themselves. Personal challenges are relative. And they are extremely personal. What may be completely off-the-wall to you may be commonplace to me. What may seem like my ultimate test of courage might seem like an average Wednesday to you. Challenges are completely unique to an individual—we all have our own definitions, limits, and abilities.

My personal challenge for #FearlessFebruary was an opportunity to explore my independence as well as my adventurous side. It was also an act of love. Let me note that as much as I would like to say I’m a spontaneous person, I have come to the conclusion that this is just not so. I need a plan. I like to know where I’m going. I like to know how things are doing to go down.  Who, what, when, where, and why—my life runs best on predetermined details.

That being said, having your partner in the U.S. Marine Corps throws a wrench in things. Your personal life suddenly becomes much more unpredictable. You don’t know when you will see them next, you don’t know where they will be in a few months, and you don’t know when they will be able to call you. It’s a lot of maybes, if-thens, and some-days. That’s why when I heard my boyfriend would have 72-hours of liberty for Presidents Day, I took action and booked a flight to Washington, D.C.

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My fearless moment was less about the action and more about mindset, attitude, and the willingness to hand the reins over to Fate. You now know that I’m not one to just buy a ticket on impulse. No, no—trips must be planned months ahead for my comfort level.  However, this time I would be taking off in a couple of weeks, landing in a city I have never been in, and having to find my way to the hotel (all by my lonesome!)

Now, my need for planning comes from my overactive imagination—I worry A LOT. So not so surprisingly, in flooded the anxiety the second after I booked my flight. I’m going to miss my transfer, I’m going to lose my suitcase, I’M going to get lost, they’re not going to let me check-in at the hotel, how do I even get a taxi? I was excited to see my marine, but the anxiety surrounding this trip was overwhelming. (For those of you who are pros at flying…well…I’m just a worrier, okay?!)

I arrived at the airport at the crack o’dawn Valentine’s Day morning and made my way through security—so far so good. I settled in my seat and closed my eyes for takeoff (I get very airsick, might I add).

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After a two-hour layover in Atlanta, I boarded my next flight. Again, so far I was doing a pretty good job keeping it together, being all adult and whatnot.

I arrived at last at the Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. quite pleased with myself. I had reached my destination fairly smoothly–nothing lost, including me–but now I had to navigate this unfamiliar city. I briefly had a moment of panic when deciding whether to call a cab or to figure out the Metro subway station, but then I remembered: this is a chance to be fearless. I think I’ll go on a subway adventure. I grabbed my suitcase and headed underground.

A little clueless, I stared at a map showing the different metro lines crisscrossing around the entire city and hesitantly identified which one looked closest to my destination. I climbed aboard and prayed I chose correctly. After zooming through a series of tunnels, stations, and bustling crowds of people, I eventually stepped out (and, to my surprise) just a block away from my hotel!

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My two-day trip in D.C. was wonderful. It was filled with snow, a long-awaited reunion, and national monuments that were larger than life. I have to say, seeing some of these memorials was kind of surreal. We’ve all seen Forrest Gump splashing through the National Mall’s Reflecting Pool (which was frozen), and The Capitol and Washington Monument are iconic structures to say the least. Seeing them in person is like coming upon a celebrity in their natural habitat. Slipping and sliding across frozen historical ground definitely makes for some interesting memories and there’s something about looking up at a gigantic, stoic President Lincoln that makes you feel a little small.

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I also found myself unusually reflective throughout my sightseeing. When you stand in front of the Vietnam War Memorial, you can see your own silhouette reflected against the black stone among thousands of fallen soldiers. The image alone is a poetic experience, but I found it eerily beautiful that as you run your fingers across their names etched in stone, you can see others’ handprints left behind. It was a reminder that acts of bravery are not only an opportunity to challenge yourself, but also to affect those around you. Every day is a chance to leave a legacy and every day is a an opportunity to be fearless. 

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Now, I’m not saying we all have to sign up for war. Each of us can find our own way of challenging ourselves and making an impact.

When my boyfriend first left for boot camp, I’ll admit, I didn’t understand. I was furious, confused, and scared. During his first visit back to Tucson, the sight of him in uniform terrified me because (guess what?) it meant a lot of uncertainty. What did this mean for us? How much would his choice affect our relationship? How far was I willing to go? I have done a lot of growing since then and have come to appreciate that he is carrying out his own fearless moments. He is challenging himself and, as his partner, I have to call upon my own strength to support that. We are entering our third year together and I still struggle with the pressures it puts on our relationship. But I have to say, it has shown me I can be brave. I have made it through emotional obstacles I never thought I would be able to handle and this new found courage continues to push me further. Even to jump on a plane without a plan.

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This trip was about much more than my anxieties around traveling. It was another step towards taking responsibility in how I want my life to pan out. I am learning that I don’t need to know everything in advance. I am learning that I can trust in what’s to come because I can take an active part in how it comes about. I have also learned that a little fear is good. It means you care and that something important to you is on the line. As a lifelong worrier, uncertainty has always been my enemy, but I have found that the intention behind each move you make tends to sway the odds in your favor. You can’t have the perfect plan, but you can have some say in a world of uncertainties. 
So, here’s to #FearlessFebruary! It was a reminder that being fearless doesn’t mean not being scared, it means taking action regardless.

–Franny

 

Your Treasure Map to Braving the Financial Seas!

18 Feb

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Hot off the press! This week’s Wildcat Connections has arrived!

This week we’re talking money, financial matters, and all the treasures available to you as a student! We are also continuing #FearlessFebruary, so look out for our upcoming adventures and make sure to TWEET us and TAG yours!

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” 

Leadership: Defined by YOU

3 Feb

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc. and the power or ability to lead other people” (Webster). Student Affairs Outreach facilitators interviewed fellow Wildcats to find out what leadership means to them. Let’s see how Wildcats clarify that “etc.” in the dictionary definition! 

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Matthew Sherwood, junior, industrial engineering major

1. What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means taking on responsibilities that can affect other people and following through with those responsibilities, and the lessons you learn through doing that.

2. Which leadership opportunities are you pursuing/continuing this semester? I am a Club Advocate in ASUA where I am available and accessible to clubs and help them with anything they need. I am a Gato for Bear Down Camp where we learn all of the resources available to freshmen and then teach them about those resources. This semester, I am also in Arizona Ambassadors where we represent the U of A to prospective students.

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Meghan McHugh, sophomore, mechanical engineering major

1. What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means setting a good example for others.

2. Which leadership opportunities are you pursuing/continuing this semester? I am involved in research in the Mechanical Engineering department where we study radiation.

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Madison Vomacka, junior, physiology major

1. What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means being able to lead in a group, but not in a way that is controlling.

2. Which leadership opportunities are you pursuing/continuing this semester? I am a pursuing being a leader this semester by applying to be an Orientation and Welcome Leader.

Here is a special section where we interviewed your Outreach Facilitator, Andy!

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Andy Gonzalez, senior, economics and theatre arts major

1. What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is the ability to take control of a situation by example or by inspiring others to do so.

2. Which leadership opportunities are you pursuing/continuing this semester? I work on campus as an Outreach Facilitator and previously as an Orientation and Welcome Leader Student Coordinator.

Another special interview: we talked to a very special person, our boss (and UA alum!), Jen!

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Jen Ludwig, Academic Success & Achievement Assistant Director

1. What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means bringing out the best in yourself and others to complete a common goal.

2. Which leadership opportunities are you pursuing/continuing this semester? I am continually looking for opportunities to get outside my comfort zone and to learn new things.

-Adilene Barrios & Lauren Erdelyi

For the Wandering Wildcat: 3 Simple Strategies to Connect

3 Feb

From your very first day as a Wildcat, you have probably been hearing that the UofA is home to hundreds of clubs, organizations, and teams, while also being bombarded with key phrases like:

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Get involved! Connect to campus! Find your home away from home!

Okay, hundreds of clubs may sound exciting, but for people like me, that is way too overwhelmingI’m going to be honest. I have never been a “club person.” I was always intimidated by committing to something that may take away from my school time…or, you know, I just have commitment issues. My idea of clubs came from my experience in a high school setting. I was thinking of weekly meetings governed by some disgruntled member of the faculty where you would sign a list promising to show up at some event on some weekend some where. And if you didn’t show up, you were a terrible person for having a life outside said club. You see where my aversion to clubs developed…however, luckily for us, college involvement is completely different! You are in a wonderland of opportunities that you can tailor to your desired needs, specifications, and, yes, even commitment issues.

There’s a reason why seeking extracurricular activities is so encouraged (in fact there’s even cold, hard science behind it), but for now, let’s just focus on how you can connect to what getting involved means for YOU. So, where to start? Here are a couple strategies to exploring the world outside of class:

1. The “Window Shopper” Strategy

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One convenient way to see what’s out there is to pay attention to your surroundings. As you move about campus, look around! Actually read the signs other students have out, stop by their tables, listen to what they have to say (and if it’s a bake sale, well  you have nothing to lose and all the cupcakes to gain). Throughout the semester you will see a variety of clubs, organizations, and teams fundraising for their cause and these are perfect opportunities to see what their members are all about.

And guess what? The SPRING INVOLVEMENT FAIR is happening this week, Wednesday, February 5th! It’s just in time for you to stroll about the mall and “shop” for your next adventure!

Rule of thumb: did their table make you stop and wonder what their club is about? Go find out!

2. The “I Like This” Strategy

Okay, so you already know what you like. Maybe you already are interested in government, or you are an avid hiker, or are crazy about the alignment of the planets. You know what you like, but you’re not quite sure if others do. Well, have I got the resource for you!

Welcome to OrgSync: a search engine for all of the clubs and organizations here on campus! This is a great tool if you want to browse through what UofA has to offer, or if you want to see if a certain club exists. For example:

Ex. “I like Harry Potter….let’s see if other do!”

**You can search by keyword or browse by letter.

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Results?

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And, voila! You have two options for your magical endeavors!

3. The “Worker Bee” Strategy

So, you still aren’t wanting to live the club-life. That’s cool. No problem. Perhaps you would rather expend your extra hours on career development…a.k.a. making money.  “Getting involved” does not have to be club-related. It just means some kind of connection outside your academic career, a way to make this experience more personal and meaningful for you. 

Wildcat Joblink is a great way to find jobs, internships, and other great opportunities on campus. All you need to do is scroll through what’s available, see which qualifications you may or may not need, and apply!

Another great way to find jobs is to talk to people. Okay, that sounds a little weird, but it actually is pretty effective. Do you have a friend that has a great job? Ask how they got it! Do you know a specific program or office you would be interested in working for? Go check it out and ask around! Not only is it a nice way to see if this job would be a good fit for you, it also makes you visible. You never know who might be around…or which jobs haven’t been posted yet!

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There will never be a time in your life where you have so many opportunities open for you all in one place. Make sure that throughout these next few years you are making your college experience yours. 

–Franny Caputa