Archive by Author

#AdventurousApril: Exploring Tucson’s Culture

20 Apr

If you don’t already have a “Things to do in Tucson before I graduate”  bucket list, you should think about making one. For Adventurous April, I decided to cross one item off my list: explore food and art in downtown Tucson. My friend and I met up on University and took the streetcar down to Congress to find different murals from the Tucson Mural Program created by the City of Tucson. Many of them are tucked away, but if you search for murals in downtown Tucson in Google maps, their locations come up.

We spent the day wandering around to the various locations to appreciate the artwork. Pro tip: bring sunglasses if you are doing this when there is no cloud cover. I was blown away by how massive these pieces were! What I loved about the murals was how you could see that there is a story behind them for each artist. My favorite was painted by four different artists; their sections came together flawlessly while still showing off each artist’s individuality. Whenever we saw a restaurant nearby we’d never tried, we stopped in! I got to try Thai and Ethiopian food for the first time and I was surprised by how similar the flavors were to other foods I’d tried before.

If you have a spare weekend, I’d highly recommend grabbing a friend and heading downtown to soak in the culture!

-Gabriela

#MiddlingMarch: Getting Creative

5 Apr

The middle of the semester is when I usually find myself starting to burn out. Between a full class load, work, extracurriculars, and maintaining a social life, it can feel like there isn’t a minute to spare for myself! My go-to activities to recharge allow me to explore my creative side.

Piano

This is a hobby I picked up when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I’m so glad that I did. When I’m playing, I can exist in my own world for a little bit. I pour my emotions into the songs I am playing, and sometimes I just play random notes and melodies until I find something that I like. I recently bought the sheet music for La La Land’s soundtrack, so it has been a lot of fun learning to play catchy and upbeat tunes! I’ve never really played Jazz tunes before, so it’s presented me with new technical challenges as well.

Coloring books

The adult coloring book trend has been so helpful in terms of stress relief! I got the four seasons book at Michael’s about a year ago. I really enjoy getting to play around with color, designs, and blending techniques. I highly recommend getting one if you’re looking for a way to connect to your inner child. There are also some great apps and online coloring pages out there too!

Photography

This one is a new endeavour for me, but I have enjoyed it immensely! When I was a teenager, camera phones had just come out, so I started taking a lot of pictures. During sleepovers in middle school we would pretend to model, and I am so grateful that I have those pictures to remember great memories vividly. I always wanted to start using real cameras, but never really got around to it. I borrowed from the library and Gear to Go and started playing with different features to learn how they changed the way the picture looked. I was surprised by how changing one setting slightly could bring a completely new mood to the image. Right now I am mostly focusing on nature, but I want to take pictures of people very soon! Hand in hand with learning to take pictures, I am playing around with editing them afterwards. We now have access to Adobe Creative Cloud products through the U of A, so I am also exploring how to use Lightroom and Photoshop to enhance my images. Here’s a couple of pictures I took!

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I really love the mountains!

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Caught this little one at Old Main!

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Had fun experimenting with closeups.

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Barely took this in time; the bee flew away right after!

-Gabriela

Spring Fling: It’s the Best Time of the Year

2 Apr

In high school I went to several U of A info sessions, and every time they would talk about Spring Fling as the largest student-run carnival in the country. While that wasn’t a factor into my decision, they definitely put it on my radar. I lived in the Residence Halls my freshman year and had a solid group of friends through Hall Council. When Spring Fling finally came we decided to go as a group. Since there wasn’t a time that worked for everyone, I ended up going twice. It’s now become my favorite part of the school year, because it means summer is almost here! Here’s what I’ve learned from going to Spring Fling the past two years.

The first thing is to get in line to get tickets or wristbands. Freshman year, I only got tickets. I wasn’t sure how many of the rides I would want to go on, so I thought it made more sense. I wished that I had gotten a wristband, because a lot of the rides that I wanted to go on cost about 8-13 tickets. Sophomore year, I got a wristband both times that I went, and it was definitely worth it. There were several rides that I went on multiple times because it was just that much fun. I felt like I got a lot more out of my experience that way. I still bought a few tickets so that I could get food from the club booths.

I’ve always enjoyed the adrenaline rush from going on rides at theme parks. Spring Fling is no different. As someone that likes to be in control as much as possible, it’s fun to just give in and let go for a few hours. Of course this means that while I’m in line for a ride, I start to get really freaked out and almost change my mind. I’ve learned to take my time and have breaks periodically after really intense rides to help my body keep up with the day. Self care is always important, even at carnivals!

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Come prepared! Wear shoes that will stay on during intense rides or can easily be taken off. I’ve seen a lot of flip flops go flying. Bring a bag to keep your items safe while you’re on the ride. I can’t tell you how many cell phones have gone flying out of hands and pockets and get shattered screens.

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This is a pretty accurate description of what I look like the entire time.

Some of the “kiddie” rides were a lot more intense than I was expecting. A few of the rides are more like an obstacle course or house of mirrors, and I’m not the most physically active person. So I end up struggling for a while as small children go by, and it’s a little embarrassing. At the end of the day I get a good laugh out of it, so I still do one or two.

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Typically, I get food well before getting to the event and again at the very end. It’s a lot of fun getting to try foods from around the world through cultural clubs as well as typical fair food from others. This is a major fundraiser for many student organizations, so it goes to a good cause.

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The best part about Spring Fling is that you can customize your experience. If you just want to play the booth games and get food, you can. It doesn’t have to break the bank!

-Gabriela

How to Prepare for Online Courses

19 Mar

Online courses have their pros and cons. They are more flexible than in person courses and are pretty much self-paced. However, they do require a lot more work in terms of organization and time management. This semester I am taking three online courses because I have too many commitments during the work week to fit in a full schedule of in-person classes. Here’s my advice for success in online classes.

  1. Block out time in your calendar to work on assignments. Because the time is not already set aside, I created time blocks in each day of the week to focus on my online coursework. Monday through Friday this is about 3-6 hours a day that I would have normally been doing homework where I’m reading, watching lectures, or getting started on written assignments. On Saturday and Sunday I have about 5 hours each day specifically set aside for working on homework, knowing that will likely need to be extended when larger projects come due.
  2. Map out due datesPrior to this semester, I pretty much lived out of my planner already. Now I absolutely need it to stay on track to complete assignments with less stress. I went through syllabus by syllabus and wrote down each due date for minor assignments, projects, and exams. Then I went to the monthly calendar to put down the bigger due dates. For all three of my courses, everything is primarily due on Friday-Sunday with the opportunity to turn everything in early.
  3. Make connections with classmates. Traditional courses make this much easier, but having some people to troubleshoot assignments with or run ideas by is extremely helpful in online courses. In two of my classes, I have a few people that I have taken face to face courses with that I can always ask for help. The third course requires us to work in teams, so once I got my team I made sure we had each other’s contact information. We now have a group text and have used it to get to know one another as well as communicating about the week’s assignment.

The first time I was in an online course, I found it quite difficult to balance it with all of my other commitments. After finding what works for me, I am much more confident that I will be able to succeed in my courses. Feel free to try out my strategies! If they don’t work for you, think about what kind of learner you are, how you stay motivated, and develop different strategies that are more appropriate for you.

-Gabriela

Surviving Priority Advising: Your Recipe for Success

8 Mar

The priority advising period can feel really stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Planning ahead can help you get the most out of your time with your academic advisor. If you are thinking of switching majors, start the process early so that you won’t run into issues during registration.

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared student
  • 1 insightful advisor
  • 1-19 units (add to taste)
  • 1 list of possible classes
  • 1 list of questions
  • 15 minutes of 1:1 time

Instructions

  1. Find a time to meet with your advisor. Check Wise Advising to see when your advisor has appointments. Most advising offices email out a schedule of when you can come in for advising, so look in your CatMail if you aren’t sure. In general, this will be the week before you register. Some advising offices also switch to walk-in only during priority advising, so plan ahead! Walk-in hours are on a first come, first-served basis
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  2. Open your advisement report. Getting there is simple: log into UAccess and click on “My Academics” to the left of your course schedule. Click on the first link “My advisement report”.
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  3. Create a draft 4-year plan. Some departments post sample 4 year plans that you can use as a rough guideline. If you’ve already created a plan with your advisor, skip this step. Some things to take into consideration: Pre-requisites for upper division courses, total units needed to keep a scholarship, pursuing multiple degrees, any minors, and completing all Gen Ed requirements. Your plan may look different from the sample one depending on your math placement, or any transfer/exam credits counting towards different requirements, that is ok!

  4. Decide which requirements you absolutely need to complete next semester. Use the search function in UAccess to see when any pre-requisite courses are offered. Try to get them out of the way, if possible. This will help you stay on track to graduate on time. I like to use the “browse course catalog” feature that lets you search by letter, but it’s all up to personal preference.

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    There are two ways to search for open courses in UAccess!

  5. Find those courses on UAccess and add them to your shopping cart. Just click the green “select” button and then hit next and it will be added. This is helpful for your advisor because they can see what’s in your shopping cart and give you advice based off of what you’ve selected.

  6. Decide which other courses you want to fill your semester with. Pick ones that sound interesting and fulfill requirements. Add multiple back-ups to your shopping cart in case they fill up on registration day.

  7. Make sure you will have enough travel time to make it to class on time. Sometimes there’s no way around it, but if you can avoid running from one class to the other because you only have ten minutes to make it across campus you will thank yourself later.

  8. Check for any holds on your account. You can see thesA by going to your homepage on UAccess and looking at the right-hand column. Click the “details” button to see more specifics and get information about how to clear a hold. If you aren’t sure what to do, be sure to bring it up to your advisor and they will point you in the right direction.
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  9. Write down any questions you have for your advisor and bring the list with you to your appointment. I often forget at least one thing I needed to ask my advisor, having it all ready to go beforehand helps me get the answers I need quickly. If you do forget a question, email them as soon as you remember and follow-up if you do not get a response in 24-48 hours.
  10. Get to your appointment early. This is especially true for walk-in hours, if you have limited availability you will want to get on the list as soon as possible. Most departments also have a check-in process for appointments, so arriving early helps make sure that does not cut into your time with your advisor.

-Gabriela

Things to do in Tucson for Spring Break

8 Mar

Sticking around Tucson for spring break? Here’s your guide to making the most of the week!

On Campus

Tucson Festival of Books

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The Tucson Festival of Books is an annual event that takes place during UA’s Spring break. Head over to the mall from 9:30AM-5:30PM on Saturday, March 11th and Sunday, March 12th. Check out the schedule of events and visiting author schedule to make sure that you don’t miss anything! Like their page on Facebook to stay updated in real time!

U of A Museum of Art

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The University of Arizona Museum of Art is located on the northwest corner of campus and admission is free with a CatCard. If you are bringing a friend that does not attend UA, General Admission is $8. Hours vary by day, so plan your visit ahead of time. Check out the current Exhibitions to know what to expect before you arrive.

Center for Creative Photography

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Right across the street next to the Harvill building is the Center for Creative Photography. Admission is free to all visitors. The center is open Tuesdays- Fridays from 9AM-4PM and Saturdays from 1PM-4PM. There are two photo exhibitions currently on display so you can make an afternoon out of visiting both museums!

Arizona State Museum

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The Arizona State Museum has been around since 1893 and celebrates the culture and history of the Southwest U.S. Located just off of University Blvd. and Park Ave. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM. UA and Pima students enter for free with Student IDs, kids get in free, and adult admission is $5. Explore Native American history and pottery through self-guided tours.

Centennial Hall

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Across the street from the Arizona State Museum is Centennial Hall, where the Tucson community gathers for visiting speakers and performances. The musical, Kinky Boots, will be performed by Broadway in Tucson from March 14th- March 19th. Get tickets online or in-person.

Tree Ring Lab

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Head over to the Highland Commons to get a peak at one of the most unique buildings on campus. There will be an open house as part of the Festival of Books on the 11th from 10AM-2PM. You can also join a tour on the 14th & 15th at 10AM.

Ballet Tucson Dance & Dessert

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If you’re into the arts, Tucson’s professional ballet company is holding their annual Dance & Dessert performance March 17th-19th. Read about the performances to get a background on what the pieces are about. Tickets are $35/ person and can be picked up at will call at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater for no additional cost.

Off Campus

Pima Air & Space Museum

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Learn more about the history of flight and hear stories from veterans at the Pima Air and Space Museum. Admission includes all exhibits, and you can join a guided tour for an additional cost. Located in Southeast Tucson, you can enjoy seeing other parts of the city that you may not have explored before.

Old Tucson

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Immerse yourself in the Wild West at Old Tucson Studios, where many famous westerns were filmed. Hours vary by season. Check out the attractions ahead of time to plan your day. There will be special events going on this week as well!

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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A trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a great way to learn more about the native wildlife of the Southwest. During the spring they are open from 7:30AM-5PM. General admission allows you to see all of the animals, plants, and fossils; access to the new stingray exhibit is an additional cost. You will walk about two miles if you visit every exhibit, so pack sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water!

Hiking

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Tucson’s mountains and temperate spring weather make it an ideal place to go hiking! Check out the link above to plan your next trip. Remember these safety tips before you head out on the trail! Many Tucson locals like to hike Sabino Canyon’s Seven Falls, pictured above, to cool off. When planning your hike, remember to head out early in the morning, stay hydrated, and stick to a difficulty appropriate for your level of experience.

Saguaro National Park

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Tucson is home to a National Park! Get a taste of the Sonoran desert by exploring Saguaro National Park. Learn about its history and wildlife before you go. Walk or bike any day from 9AM-5PM for only $5. Guided programs are also available.

Tucson St. Patrick’s Day Festival

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Head out to Downtown on the 17th to watch the 30th Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade! The parade will begin at 11AM, so get there early. Take a peek at the parade route to pick your spot to watch. Throughout the day there will be activities to learn more about Irish culture and history.

Tucson Food Tours

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Tucson is known for its diverse food options and was recently named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Join one of the Downtown Tucson Food Tours on the 10th, 12th, 17th, and 18th for $50. Tours begin at 11AM and last 4 hours, so come hungry! You will learn more about the city’s history and locals’ favorite spots to hang out and enjoy a good meal. If you’ve been wanting to try out new cuisines, this is the event for you.

The Loft Cinema

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The Loft is a local nonprofit movie theater that shows more than just the mainstream films. Tickets are $7 for showings before 4PM and $7.75 any other time with a student discount. Every Thursday in March there will be a special monthly feature. Check out their showtimes to see if something catches your eye!

Tucson Museum of ArtArtisans Market

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Visit the Tucson Museum of Art located Downtown! Admission is $7 with a student ID, and the  Sunday the 12th is a free admission day (second Sunday special). Current exhibitions include modern, western, and Latin art. Admission also includes access to the historic block surrounding the museum, which is a great way to learn more about Tucson’s rich history! Check out their special events, including the Artisans Market the 17th-19th.

#FearlessFebruary: Rushing an Honorary

24 Feb

During my freshman year, I was excited to start getting involved and really had no problem pushing myself out of my comfort zone- because I hadn’t created one yet. Now that I’ve found my rhythm and a comfortable place at the U of A, it’s been a lot harder for me to try new things. I’m afraid of not getting accepted, committing to something and then finding out that I don’t like it, and distracting myself too much from my academics.

This February, I have really pushed myself to try new things that I’ve been wanting to do but always held back. One of those things was rushing a pre-health professions honorary, AED. Anyone who knows me can testify that I am definitely an introvert. I’m fine being in social situations, but I need some time alone afterward to decompress and re-energize myself. Spending a week straight attending social engagements where I have to approach people and keep the conversation going are pretty much the last thing I’d willingly do. It’s exhausting and nerve-wracking.

The first event was an informational session and we played a few games afterward. I was pretty much a wreck the entire time. My heart was pounding, I thought I might puke, and I tried to talk to the officers, but they absolutely intimidated me. I went home pretty disappointed with myself for not making more of an effort. At each of the next casual events, I kept reminding myself how much I wanted to be a part of this organization, and that I needed to make a serious effort for that to be a possibility. Luckily, I found someone from one of my classes freshman year who was also rushing and we went to talk to the officers together. I found myself feeling much more at ease and was able to get to know them. Eventually, I actually enjoyed having to answer a lot of similar questions and maintaining longer conversations. I had to hold my own and stand out in the group, which was not easy.

Overall, this was a great experience. Even though I didn’t get a bid, I definitely learned so much about myself. I am much more capable of putting myself out there than I thought I was. Even in new and uncomfortable situations, I can rise above the urge to run away from situations that make me very nervous. I definitely enjoy forming meaningful connections with others, and the entire rush process reminded me that it’s one of my strengths. I’m always grateful for experiences in life that show me more of who I truly am.

-Gabriela

How to Find Your Mentor

3 Feb

Maintaining a relationship with a professor is not as difficult as it seems at first. Believe it or not, they really want to get to know their students. But you do have to make an effort for that to happen.

Step 1: Choose a professor. Pick one whose personality is a good fit for you or whose area of interest is something you’d like to learn more about. Harry was really interested in Defense Against the Dark Arts, so he approached Professor Lupin to learn more.

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The best mentorships come from natural connections.

Step 2: Set up a time to meet outside of the classroom. One easy way to do this is through office hours. If your professor’s office hours don’t fit into your schedule, send them an email and schedule a time to meet, you can even offer to take them to lunch. Luckily, you won’t need a secret password to get into their office, like Professor Dumbledore’s.

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Professors have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to offer!

Step 3: Ask questions. You can start off with things that you don’t understand about course content or more in-depth knowledge that you’d like to know. Also ask questions about why they chose their field, experiences that they’ve had, their hobbies, and any advice they might have.

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In-depth conversations about a professor’s background can reveal commonalities you never expected.

Step 4: Get involved. Ask if they have any opportunities to get involved with research, preceptor, or work on extra projects. Showing genuine interest is always best. As Harry gained Dumbledore’s trust, he was able to help with important tasks.

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If you aren’t sure where you want to go, talking with a professor can offer a lot of guidance.

Step 5: Let them get to know you. The more time you spend with them, the easier this will be. Let them learn who you are as a person, your interests and hobbies, and what’s going on in your life. They genuinely care about your well-being. If you are looking to get a letter of recommendation, it helps for them to have a well-rounded picture of you.

Building these relationships take a lot of time and effort, but they are worth it!

-Gabriela

#DreadedDecember: Packing

24 Dec

Every time the end of the semester rolls around I get really excited to go home. Thinking about all of the warm meals, time to catch up on the TV shows I haven’t had time to watch, and seeing my dogs helps me get through finals. Unfortunately, living in the Residence Halls means having to pack all of the essentials and take them home because I can’t get back in over winter break.

Every year, I’ve figured out how to get more efficient with my packing skills. First, I have to deal with scheduling a time to check out, which usually involves a long phone call with my parents explaining my finals schedule and how the process works (again). This conversation usually gets a little heated because what’s most convenient for me usually isn’t what is most convenient for them.

Next, I have to deal with my food because I have to defrost my fridge. This year I have a cooler so I can wait a little longer to get rid of some of my food in the fridge. My frozen foods will either have to go home before me or get shared amongst my friends so it doesn’t go to waste.

Last, I have to pick the bare minimum of the rest of my possessions because I don’t have my own room at home anymore (my little sister lucked out when I came to college). Since it’s going to get pretty chilly, I grab all of my sweaters and warm PJs and jeans first. This year I used Ziploc big bags to move in, so I’ll be using them again to pack up. My suitcase is reserved for smaller items (hair things and keepsakes that need to come home with me). Then I grab some pairs of shoes and throw them into a random bag because they’re usually my last thought on my way out.

Before I leave, I do a quick vacuum and dust off my flat surfaces. This year is a little different, I don’t have to set up a check out time so I can just leave a few hours after my last exam. After going through this process so many times, packing has become less stressful but still something that I really don’t enjoy doing. It’s always worth it once I’m home, though!

Enjoy winter break, wildcats!

-Gabriela

10 Ways to Make it Through Finals Week

2 Dec

Finals are probably going to be stressful. There’s a lot of material to cover, and everyone around you is freaking out about their grades too. There are ways to make it a little easier, and not all of them involve studying!

  1. Schedule time to sleep
    giphy-3Because you don’t have classes anymore, it is really easy to get preoccupied with studying and spending time with friends. What helps me is to set a time by which I need to go to bed and set alarms to remind myself that I need to get it done. After four semesters I know that I usually get pretty worn out from studying consistently by 10:30-11PM (without fail) and then I can stay asleep until the sun actually comes up the next day. Getting rest is crucial to actually remember what you studied.
  2. Consume caffeine wisely
    giphy-1When everyone at the library is drinking cup after cup of coffee, it can be tempting to do the same. The thing is, you have to be careful- caffeine can be good and help you stay focused. Drink too much and you’ll probably have a hard time focusing and start getting jittery. Also stay hydrated with water- your brain needs it.
  3. Avoid eating only junk food
    giphy-2At this point in the semester you’re probably running low on money in your meal plan or food budget. Do your best to not stress eat a lot of chips, chocolate, and sugary foods that won’t fill you up. Eating food with nutrients will help you keep going and avoid getting tired or experiencing brain fog.
  4. Double and triple check each syllabus for the details on your finals
    giphy-5If you haven’t looked at your syllabus since the first week (or at all), it’s time to dig it back out. Double check how much your final is worth (points or percentage), when it is taking place, and where so that you’re not confused or lost on finals day. If you don’t know where it is, map it out ahead of time because being lost adds extra stress.
  5. Grab a buddy and check out the Rec Center
    giphy-6Even if you’ve never been to the rec before, exercise is a great way to take a break and also give yourself a chance to refresh your body. You don’t have to run 10 miles or lift a bunch of weights (you can if that’s what you do already), just 15 minutes of some cardio is enough to get the blood flowing throughout your body. The goal is just to refocus your mind. It’s fun to do this with a friend, and the Rec offers free group fitness classes during finals week and is open for extended hours. Check out their Finals Survival Week events here.
  6. Stay off of social media except during scheduled breaks
    giphySocial media is great- it keeps us in touch with people far away, allows for discussion, and who doesn’t like a cute puppy video? If you’re like me, it can be easy to wander onto Facebook or Twitter and then an hour later wonder where all that time went. Schedule short breaks (no more than 10-15 minutes) after about 2 hours of studying or when switching subjects to allow yourself to still feel connected to the world.
  7. Attend study sessions, bonus office hours, and utilize study groups
    giphy (1).gifMany professors, preceptors, and TAs offer extra opportunities for study sessions for finals. Because they are often cumulative, this is a great way to see what information you have retained from the beginning and which cobwebs need dusting off. Go with your classmates and study groups, but remember to be respectful and pay attention. Participation is key- do the practice problems and discuss concepts, you’re much more likely to retain the information.
  8. Go outside and enjoy the nice weather!
    giphyTucson’s nice weather is in full force by the start of December! Grab a coat and take a breath with a short walk outside. It always helps me to get away from the books, clutter in my room, and computer screens. If you have multiple exams you’re studying for at the same time, getting some time with nature in between subjects can help you mentally reset so that you don’t get things mixed up.
  9. Mentally prepare to go back home for the holidays
    Whether you live in the Res Halls and have to go home for four weeks or are just planning on visiting home for the holidays, there’s a lot of logistics to think through. Prepare yourself for questions about how college was and the possibility of not having as much freedom as you do at school. If you’re flying home, remember to arrange transportation to the airport and time to pack your bags.
  10. Breathe
    Most importantly, breathe. You will make it through this week. It may not feel like it, but you will come out alive.

Good luck! You’ve got this!

-Gabriela