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#OutrageousOctober: Horror Movie

17 Oct

Some people love horror movies, but I am definitely not one of those people. In the spirit of Spooktober, I decided to watch a horror movie to get out of my comfort zone a little bit. After consulting with some of the other Wildcat Connections team members, I decided to watch The Houses October Built. (Disclaimer- This blog in no way is endorsing the film or its content, just sharing my experience watching it)

I ended up watching this movie during the day, and thank goodness I did because I’m freaked out enough. I don’t think I would have gotten sleep if I’d watched it at night. It started out being a pretty tame experience, somewhat like a documentary or reality show. And then they show up to the first haunted house and everything was downhill from there. All of a sudden there’s clowns everywhere (which terrify me, by the way), and they continue to go to all of these haunted houses.

What really got me terrified about this movie was that none of it was totally implausible. People can do this stuff to other people in real life! Now I’m pretty much set on never setting foot in a haunted house in my life because you never know what’s real and what’s not. Even though this movie is supposedly fiction, I don’t have much confidence in all of that anymore. Ultimately, I’m pretty proud of myself for watching the movie all the way through. Doing things that scare you without taking you to crisis mode can be a really healthy growing experience!



There’s No Place Like Home?

13 Oct

No matter where you’re from, coming to college is a huge transition for you, your family, and your friends. It can be difficult to find a new balance in those relationships as your priorities and obligations change. College is also a time for you to grow as a person and discover your values and beliefs, which may not always match up with those of your family or friends. If you are finding it challenging to navigate this adjustment, it’s completely normal. Here’s some tips to help ease that transition.

  1. Create or maintain boundaries
    For many people, it is very difficult to create boundaries – especially with those we have close relationships with. However, creating those boundaries and learning when to say “no” or “I need some space” is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Decide where your limits are by taking a good look at your values and the priorities that need to take precedence in your life right now. Then make the commitment to stick to those limits, no matter how uncomfortable it can be.
    boundaries gif
    You may have “helicopter parents” who want to be involved in every single thing you do, every decision you make, and never seem to leave you alone. Remember that they are learning to let you be independent, and that it’s usually because they are worried about you. Sometimes you just have to let that 6th phone call of the day go to voicemail or send a text saying you can’t talk right now, and it will feel a little awkward.
    If you came to college with a friend group from high school, chances are some of them will feel jealous once you start meeting new people. You may have to initiate a conversation with those friends to help them understand why you aren’t around as much anymore. It’s perfectly okay to make new friends! In fact, you may end up outgrowing your high school friends and there is nothing wrong with that either.
  2. Modes of communication
    Thanks to the technology available, it is easier than ever to stay in touch with your loved ones. Group chats are a great way to share the funny things that happen or work through your tough days with family and friends. Facetime and Skype are perfect for storytime when something huge is going on, and it helps feel like you’re with them even if you are miles and miles away. Continue to follow your boundaries with how often you use these modes of communication, but take full advantage of them as well.


    An accurate representation of chats with your best friend.

  3. Visiting home
    No matter where you’re from, being at home can be both comforting and challenging. Sometimes parents forget that you’re an adult now and you lose a lot of the freedoms that you have while at college.


    How family, friends, and pets react when you come home.

    If you aren’t living at home, there’s a lot of factors to consider when visiting home. Tucson natives struggle with everyone saying “it’s so easy to go home” and balancing the demands of being a student. While it is really easy to go home, you have to live your own life. When visiting, sometimes you have to bring your homework with you and you may not get to go on a ton of family excursions for the sake of completing assignments.
    If your hometown is a few hours (or a long plane ride) away, visiting home takes a lot more planning. You have to figure out the costs of traveling and how to work around your class or work schedule. When you do get the chance to go home, you still have the same balancing act as Tucsonans in terms of focusing on school while catching up with your family.

  4. Homesickness
    No matter where you’re from, homesickness will hit you at some point or another. You miss food that isn’t from a fast-food joint, the softness of your own bed, your favorite restaurants, and the scenery. As painful as it is, you will survive it. Let yourself feel a little sad, then do something that reminds you of home.
    homesick sandy

Navigating these relationships can be uncomfortable and emotional, but it’s a normal part of being an adult. As difficult as it can be, you will learn a lot about yourself in the process. Remember that what your relationships look like will be different according to your needs and wants.

– Gabriela


#StudiousSeptember: Old habits die hard

28 Sep

This year is my fourth and final year as an undergraduate student at the U of A. At this point, I am fairly comfortable with my study habits. However, as I have taken on more extracurricular commitments than I am used to this year, the first few weeks presented a time management challenge for me. Suddenly, everything that helped me be successful in the past wasn’t working anymore. Here’s three easy strategies that I’ve been trying for the past few weeks.

  1. Keeping a more detailed online calendar
    There are a lot of online calendars out there, but the one I’m using is Outlook. I like having this tool to keep track of my hourly schedule, while my paper planner is to track completion of readings and homework assignments. It’s been helpful for me to immediately put meetings and appointments that come up into my calendar so that I don’t miss anything important. I tend to be very forgetful, so this has been instrumental in keeping my life together.
  2. Turning my phone off for brief periods of time when working on homework
    I never realized how much of a distraction my phone could be until I started doing this. My friends send me lots of random texts, memes, snapchats, and group messages. Checking all of those as soon as they come in turns out to be a huge time drain. What I’ve started doing now is turning off my phone or putting it on airplane mode for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Taking advantage of lunch breaks
    This is the first semester that where I’ve had true lunch breaks that lasted more than enough time to wait for food and scarf it down before the next class. I’ve been able to really take advantage of those few hours to get ahead on readings, review notes, and even take the occasional nap. Attempting to get as much done as possible during the day has been helpful in maintaining a healthy, balanced life.

If you are noticing that some of the things you tried in high school aren’t helpful or are even holding you back, don’t be afraid to try some of these strategies or research other time management tips online. Best of luck with the rest of the semester!


Just Keep Swimming

25 Sep

In the hustle and bustle of the beginning of freshman year, everything seems to go by so quickly. So many opportunities get thrown at you and before too long your head starts spinning with all of the possibilities. In many ways, that is the beauty of college – you can become who you were meant to be! Some of the opportunities that interest you the most may be things you never would have imagined could be a good fit. My entire college journey has been a mixture of absolute uncertainty and questioning my decisions. Don’t stress too much if you’re in that spot too, it’s hard to believe it now but everything will work out in the end.

Freshman year:

I came to UA as a pre-med student, but the more I explored the options available to me I realized it wasn’t quite the right path for me. I ended up changing my major 5 times between orientation and the beginning of sophomore year. Thankfully, they all had overlapping courses so I was still on track to graduate in four years. One of the most helpful classes I had that year was a 1 unit health professions exploration colloquium. Between the guest speakers for that class and the many mentors in my life I found the perfect major.

Sophomore year:

At this point, I knew I liked my major because I was actually enjoying my classes. Every day I felt really excited about all of the options my chosen field had to offer. In all of the excitement I started to get scared because I could not narrow down my interests to one career. Instead of stressing out too much about this, I decided to just go with the flow and take the time to keep exploring rather than trying to tie myself down to one thing.

Junior year:

Last year, I was able to narrow down to two or three options that I felt extremely passionate about. I spent more time researching how to get started in those fields to start to identify what my life after college could look like. Talking with professors in my field really helped me realize that most professionals had a journey filled with uncertainty and change too, which reassured me a lot.

Senior year:

During the summer, I took on an internship that gave me a lot more insight into a potential career path. While it may not have been exactly right for me, it did help me do a lot more thinking about what careers truly fit with my passions. One day I watched a YouTube video and I learned that public health law exists as a career. Immediately, I made an appointment to sit down with a pre-law advisor to discuss how to showcase my journey in my applications. Finally, after all of the confusion my path forward has action steps.

When the future seems scary or intimidating, just keep swimming! Don’t discount yourself or your abilities, if you put your mind to it you can make it happen. No two people here at the U of A are the same, your experiences won’t be identical either. If you’re like me and need a lot of structure, let yourself be a little uncomfortable in the confusion for a bit. When you do finally find the right path, you will know.


The Beginning of the Mid-Semester Slump

15 Sep

Now that the first weeks of school are out of the way, many students notice that they are not feeling as excited as they once were about being at college. The first day jitters are gone, and now it’s time to really buckle down and focus on academics with midterms right around the corner.

Unfortunately, this point in the semester is often when academic boredom truly sets in. Up to this point, students have likely not had many assignments and tend to lose motivation. Luckily, there are many ways to get back on track! First and foremost, attending class is crucial. Professors go beyond the content presented in readings and can help connect the material to real life. Keeping cell phones and laptops put away during class helps minimize distractions tremendously and will facilitate the most learning possible during a lecture or discussion session. Many introductory courses can feel boring because they are not very specific, so it’s important to realize that each class is counting towards a degree and serves a purpose.

One contributor to academic boredom is that new students’ schedules are typically saturated with general education (gen ed) courses. Gen eds may seem irrelevant to their future plans, but can be useful! Sometimes students discover a new passion in a gen ed and find their dream major or career. Other times, classes that feel irrelevant stretch a student’s ability to think critically. Sometimes professors intentionally guide students to identify or challenge their values and beliefs. These are opportunities unique to the college environment where it is accepted and even encouraged to grapple with being uncomfortable.

Everyone comes to college with different plans for the future. Some people have their hearts set on a particular career, others are questioning their original plans, and still others have absolutely no idea. Societal pressures can make it scary to be questioning a major or career. However, the majority of students will go through that phase at some point in their career and there are several resources available to navigate these thoughts. Every college has designated advisors to discuss uncertainties and future plans for students. Students in leadership roles, such as peer mentors and resident assistants, can help by sharing their experiences and resources. Many students need support from family to know that they will be accepted regardless of what major or career they ultimately choose.

The midpoint of the first semester of college can be a trying and confusing time, but don’t fear – campus is filled with people invested in helping students achieve their full potential. Many of these challenges can actually turn out to be valuable learning experiences that stay with someone for the rest of their life.


4 Ways Pop Culture Lied to you about College

3 Sep

Before coming to college, you may have seen TV shows and movies that gave you a certain expectation of what your experience would be like. Those depictions may have gotten you excited for freshman year, or terrified you. After a few weeks on campus, you may be noticing ways media just got it flat out wrong. Here are a few examples of how I’ve found popular media didn’t accurately portray college life.

  1. Residence halls look like mini-houses
    IMG_0684aExpectation: If you’ve seen Gilmore Girls, you know Rory’s residence hall basically looked like a miniature home. Every four girls having two large bedrooms and a living room sounds like a great deal!

    Reality: No matter where you go to school, it is likely your residence hall room is going to feel a little cramped. Trying to fit all of your belongings is a little difficult, not to mention entertaining a bunch of friends. 
  2. Wearing heels and formal clothing constantly is feasible and comfortable
    15894d4b4a3d9c8d41d8cbb3f42568f7--bruiser-woods-elle-woodsExpectation: In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods has no problem walking around campus in nice clothes and heels. Not to mention she brings Bruiser with her everywhere.

    Reality: If you try to wear wedges and heels to class all day, your feet will be hurting from trekking across campus. You can make it work, but it is not going to be a fun time. Living in Arizona means any and all nice clothing are going to get sweaty in no time. Bring a change of clothes and shoes for presentation days! 
  3. All random roommate situations are awkward
    giphyExpectation: In Pitch Perfect, Beca and Kimmy Jin don’t know each other at all. Beca tries to initiate a friendship, but Kimmy Jin pretty much wants nothing to do with Beca.

    Reality: Sometimes random roommates never talk and just somewhat coexist. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! Last year, I had a random roommate and over time and many meals together we became closer. Today, she is one of my best friends! 
  4. Parties are the only thing to do on campus
    TowniesExpectation: In many movies like Neighbors, it seems like the only social thing to do after 5PM is going to parties.

    Reality: There are literally so many clubs and events going on every day on campus. You have so many options to have fun besides partying! Get involved in clubs, and stop by events- not only can you make new friends, but there usually will be free food too.

If your expectations aren’t quite matching up with the reality of your college experience, don’t be disappointed. Take life one day at a time and enjoy each moment. College will be over before you know it, so make these yours your own.


4 Ways to Take Advantage of Summer

3 May

Summer break here at U of A provides you with 14 full weeks to do with what you will. You can take these weeks to just hang around at home and finally catch up on sleep, but it is a great idea to take advantage of this time to gain some valuable experiences. Here’s my list of the best ways to make the most of your summer vacation.

  1. Volunteer
    There are so many ways to get connected to an organization and volunteer here in Tucson, or even in your home community! Think about what causes you are passionate about and see what opportunities are out there such as local food banks, animal shelters, or libraries. What’s most important is that you are giving back to the community and are passionate about the work you’re doing. You can even put this on your resume!
  2. Work/Intern
    No matter what stage you’re at in your college career, apply for internships in your field of study. Getting one early on as an undergraduate can help you build a relationship with an organization or company that will last well beyond graduation. Working or interning in any capacity builds valuable transferable skills such as time management, communication, timeliness, customer service and overall professionalism.
  3. Take Summer Courses
    Summer courses can be a great way to efficiently complete your degree and can be completed at a community college or right here at U of A. Check out the Transfer Credit Guide and meet with your academic advisor before registering for courses to ensure that they will apply to your degree. Summer classes are fast-paced and rigorous, but can be helpful!
  4. Travel/ Study Abroad

    Travel and study abroad can be applicable to your future! Traveling helps gain more perspective about other cultures and communities if you are thinking critically while you are there. Study abroad opportunities are also often a service-learning opportunity that can help guide your future career and show you passions you didn’t know existed. Plan for a study abroad opportunity well in advance if possible to ensure enough time to go through the application process and secure scholarships and other funding. It may be too late for a trip this summer, but you can start planning ahead for next spring semester or summer.

I hope this helped you brainstorm plans for this summer or even next summer! Good luck on finals, and Bear Down!



#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!


#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.


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!


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!


I really love the mountains!


Caught this little one at Old Main!


Had fun experimenting with closeups.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!