The Ten Commandments of Safe Spring Breaking

28 Feb

Welcome, freshmen, to your first college Spring Break! One of many that you will spend either happily wasting time in your bedroom, running around another city with your friends, or visiting your hometown. Whatever it is that you ultimately end up doing, know that it is of the upmost importance that you stay safe. You may have completed midterms last week but that doesn’t mean we won’t need you around (all parts included) for the remainder of the semester!

Commandment Number 1:

Don’t you DARE take a drink from a stranger, from someone’s personal container, or from anywhere near you if it doesn’t belong to you (trust me, people have done it).

(Not even this guy would do it)

Commandment Number 2:

Keep yourself hydrated. This is a good idea anytime, anywhere. Especially if it’ll be hot wherever your staying and especially if liquor laws allow you to drink.

Commandment Number 3:

If you’re traveling outside the country, make sure you leave your valuables at home. Cell phones and tablets can be exceptions, but anything more like jewelry or watches can make you a target for muggers.

Here we have an example of what not to take with you on vaca

Commandment Number 4:

Research the place you’re visiting. Get familiar with the layout of the town and where the best areas to stay in are. It’s better to be safe than sorry, friends.

Commandment Number 5:

Work on a buddy system because you just never know. Two people are less likely to be targets than one–keep each other safe at all times.

Commandment Number 6:

Emergency cash is a must in case you run into some trouble. Most of us tend to carry cards nowadays, which is great but take it from me: those suckers are easy to lose. Backup is essential.

Commandment Number 7:

Not everyone likes talking about, but we need to. Spring break can get wild and hook-ups sometimes do happen. No matter what you feel comfortable with, always make sure to be safe and to set clear boundaries.

Commandment Number 8:

Give yourself a break while on break. If you’re planning on partying it up it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a good day or two of nice, easy, clean relaxation. Your body will thank you for it.

*Actual footage of your body speaking to your brain*

Commandment Number 9:

Have a designated driver/sober friend in the group every night. People can get carried away and it’s always a better idea to make sure there’s at least one person you trust that can help you in case you need it. If you see that you’re designated friend isn’t staying sober, step up and take their role.

Commandment Number 10:

If you’re driving to your destination make sure you’re not traveling alone and trade off drivers. Road-tripping is fun but it’s definitely tiring.

We hope you have a fun and safe spring break, Wildcats! See you next week!



Midterms, Goals, and Spring Break

26 Feb

This can be a stressful time of year for students. In my experience, the middle of spring semester of Freshman year is when you have the realization that you’re no longer “new” at this. At this point, you have a grasp of what the expectations are so far as your classes and how you will examined. Along with that, you probably have a good idea of campus and how things work around here.

However, Spring semester can be challenging in many ways. To start, it’s longer. Additionally, there aren’t as many breaks to cushion the stress of midterms. For me, March of spring semester is when homesickness really hit. I didn’t even realize what was going on — I was taking midterms and of course, there was some drama going on with friends and such, but one day I realized that I really missed having family around. I missed having that constant and unquestioning support system. The important thing parents can do when students are stressed out with midterms and college life in general is just be supportive.

There are tons of resources around campus that students can utilize during these stressful times, and it can be nice to have a reminder of what they are. For example, if your student is very stressed, they can visit the CAPS center. Professionals there are equipped to find solutions specific to the needs of students in college. Personally, I think college can be isolating at times, especially for freshmen, so sometimes all your student may need is a third party that is willing to listen.

Along with coping with stress, students are coping with tricky classes. ThinkTank is a great resource during midterms especially. They have helpful tools and study groups allocated for specific courses and open, walk-in hours for subjects like English and Math. This is a resource that is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be because there are ThinkTank offices all over campus. Additionally, the Campus Recreation center has more to offer than its giant gym. The Rec often offers free group fitness classes for students to try out and relieve stress (especially around midterm and finals periods), and additionally, they have an entire spa dedicated to caring for students.

March is a very busy and stressful time in college. I guess a good way to describe it is like college has formed this little bubble around you over the months, and March is when you realize you need to come up for air, but it’s really hard to manage it. If your student made goals at the beginning of the semester year, this is a point in time that they might be getting a little off track. Often times, we get so wrapped up in what is going on in the present that it’s hard to actually reflect on how we are handling and managing our goals. For me, I like writing them down – just to have them firmly on paper — and then, take some time to actually think about why I am making these goals for myself. Even if your student feels off track, let them know that it’s perfectly okay — there’s always time to get back into it, especially when they’re only freshman in college.

This year, Spring Break is coming a lot earlier than most of us are used to! I remember when I was a freshman I had some grand ideas about what a “college Spring Break” might entail, but honestly it just depends on your student! Maybe they’ve been really stressed out and homesick and they are just looking to return home for the week. They could even be getting some Rest & Relaxation right here in Tucson! Or, perhaps they are heading over to Rocky Point or California with their friends. All of these are viable options — as parents, you can support your students by doing your best to ensure they are vacationing responsibly. Are they taking a reliable and safe car if they are going for a long drive? Are they going with trustworthy friends that will be looking out for them?

I remember my parents were (understandably) a little concerned about the prospect of Spring Break. I just tried to be open and honest with them, and I think that having that trust established is what allowed them to relax. However, do remind your students that the semester isn’t over after the break. They should of course take the time to destress and all, but there will still be plenty of midterms and finals and essays waiting for them when they return! 😉



Midterm Mania

21 Feb

Midterms are in full swing this week! There are so many different ways to successfully prepare, and a ton of campus resources to help you. Here are some tips of how to prepare and succeed on your midterms and where to go for help.

  1. Evaluate what works best for you. If you always try to study with friends but just end up talking, try studying alone. If you always get off task when studying alone, work with some motivated friends.
  2. Find a good space with minimal distractions. This could be your desk at home, a nice spot in the grass on the mall, or a private room in the library. Group study rooms can be reserved for up to 8 students, technology study rooms are available with computers and large monitors, collaboration rooms can hold groups of up to 16 people, or private quiet study rooms can be reserved if you need a place to yourself.modern family.gif
  3. Don’t cram! Everyone does it and everyone regrets it. Start studying early and periodically. If you have projects, make sure to plan enough time to balance those with studying for exams. The library assignment scheduler gives you step by step checkpoints and resources for completing papers and projects. Think Tank’s semester on a page can help you keep track of assignments and visualize when you need to spread out studying and projects.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s professor, TA, and preceptor office hours, Think Tank subject and and academic skills tutoring, SI study sessions, private tutoring, and more. But no one can help you if you don’t help yourself first, so help yourself by asking for help!how to study.gif
  5. Make sure you’re minimizing stress and getting enough sleep. Studying isn’t effective if you aren’t getting enough sleep to let the information settle in. If you’re stressed, you’re also less likely to retain what you’re studying. Check out Wellness at Campus Rec for some resources on how to keep yourself healthy, or the RecSPA for massage and other forms of therapy.chillax.gif
  6. Take your midterms as a benchmark for your progress in the class. Use them to evaluate your study habits and understanding of the content. If you’re doing well, keep it up! If there are some things you need to change, make this change before it’s too late in the semester. Your academic advisor is a great resource to help evaluate your progress and where to go from there.


Good luck on your midterms!


How to ‘Midterm’

21 Feb

At this point in the semester, you may feel a little overwhelmed because you have looked at your calendar and you realize you have multiple midterms back to back. I know this feeling and it feels like a huge pit in your stomach.

Take a breath.

It is okay and totally normal to feel the pressure of midterms, but remember, you have tools and resources around you that will help you make it through this tough time. The following list will help you know where to go in order to make it through the midterm season along with small things to keep in mind while you are preparing.

This may seem a little like a bribe but that’s kind of the point. It doesn’t just make you WANT to study, but it makes you feel good inside because, after hard work, you will do something fun. You will be more motivated to bust out your notes and textbooks to study if you have something to look forward to afterward. This could also relate to stepping out of your comfort zone and attending a WSIP writing workshop or ThinkTank for an SI session or tutoring session. I know attending one of these alone may be nerve-wracking, but if you reward yourself after, you may have a little bit more of a push of actually going and benefiting a lot from it.

No matter what class you are studying for or how long you do it for, you ALWAYS need a break. ESPECIALLY if you have been sitting in front of a screen for hours trying to finish a paper or have your head stuck in a book for hours. Give your eyes a rest by walking outside or doing a fun activity on campus for a bit. Stepping away will not only give your brain a break but when you come back to your studying you will be more refreshed. Some of my favorite places to go to take a break on campus is going to the turtle pond, going down University for some coffee or a little shopping, or even sit down under a tree on the mall. Our campus is beautiful, so embrace the beauty that you may overlook. Another thing you can do for relaxation is visiting the RecSpa. They have different types of massages and time lengths at a very reasonable price. It is great to get out of your head a bit and go into relaxation mode. After you get a massage, you will be ready to get back to studying!

One of the best stress relievers is to focus on your body and participate in a little bit of fitness. If you are on campus, utilize the Rec Center because it is free to use and it provides for any type of fitness. If you like to lift weights, focus on cardio, swim, or just want to walk, they have an area for that. I know for myself, I’m not the fittest and going to the Rec is sometimes intimidating, but I encourage you to go and work at your own pace.

Even though you have to be productive, you still need to socialize with other people in order to maintain a healthy balance during midterm season. One way to be social AND productive at the same time you could form a study group! Ask the people in your class if they would want to get a study room at the library where you can all go over the study guide and other notes in order to prep for the exam. If you have the right type of group, these are very successful and a lot more fun than just being in your room by yourself. Another thing you can do to bring a little bit more socializing into your midterm prep is joining a club/organization or visit one of the cultural centers across campus. You will not only have fun, but you can meet new people.

The MOST important thing to remember when prepping for midterms is that you stay healthy both mentally and physically. Mental health is so important to everyday life, especially passing exams. It is important to relieve your stress in positive ways as well as be able to express yourself to people who you trust. If you feel overwhelmed during this time or schedule an appointment with CAPS. They are always there to help you out when you need someone to talk to! The same thing goes for physical health. If you feel like you are getting sick make sure to go to Campus Health. Midterms are twice as hard if you are not feeling well in the duration of the exam, so being on top of your physical health is vital.

All in all, during this time, make sure you do what is best for you and try to do your best with all of your midterms. It is very stressful so make sure you check in on yourself! Also, keep in mind that the UA has so many resources for you to use that are free from cost and can benefit you tremendously in your studies!

Good Luck with Midterms!


#FearlessFebruary: Boxing!

21 Feb

This month I wanted to try something that I have been inclined to try for a while, but haven’t had that last push of motivation to actually do. So… I tried boxing! I have always wanted to give this a try for the purpose of it being a great and intense workout, but also because I think I could learn cool self defense skills from it. However, I did always think it might be a little intimidating walking into a “boxing club” with literally zero experience.

I knew I had to try it though when I learned that Boxing Inc. gives out one free class to newcomers!

Related image

There are three locations in Tucson for Boxing Inc., but I went to the one on the East side. For those of you that might want to stay closer to campus, the University gym is right on Campbell. Anyway, I just called them and asked to sign up for a free class, and from there, it was just a matter of attending one!

I’ll start by saying, they definitely didn’t just let me into the ring from the start. That would have gone over terribly (lol). There was a lot of partner work and sparring, and one thing I really loved is that they made sure I warmed up my muscles before letting me throw out some wild jabs (which was of course tempting to do).

Something I was really surprised to learn was that there’s almost a zen philosophy to boxing. I naively figured it was mostly about anger and letting out all your aggression, but it’s really not. There was a quote that read, “The past is useful only if it is used to prepare for the future.” Now, I guess this correlates to losing a fight in the ring, but then taking that loss, and working hard to get a win in the future. Basically, it’s about being resilient and learning from your mistakes, and of course this applies to life as well. I feel like it’s so easy to get bogged down by one “loss,” and everyone tells you to “learn from it,” but that’s always easier said then done. Boxing forces you to take your future into your own hands — everything is up to you, the harder you train, the better your outcome. It’s all about you putting in the time.

Obviously, (perhaps not obvious to all of you, but obvious to anyone who might know me), I am not preparing to become an MMA fighter or anything along those lines. But, I definitely learned from this experience. ALSO, a huge takeaway — there is A LOT of cardio. So before you get in there, make sure you have a good amount of stamina in you. 🙂

– Amna 🙂


#FearlessFebruary: Climbing Camelback

20 Feb

Around the Wildcat Connections office, February means it’s time for some fearlessness! Some of us like to get piercings or dye our hair wild colors, but this semester I decided to with something a little bit more outdoorsy. If you’re a Phoenix native, like me, then you definitely know how much of a destination spot Camelback Mountain is for avid hikers. Now, I am all about the hikes… Arizona is a pretty awesome place to hike in but Camelback has always been one of the few places in Phoenix that I never really got around to experiencing. It’s always had a sort of intimidating presence (the climbing over giant boulders with a handrail really did it for me).

But since it is February and this month is all about being fearless I said “What the heck? Let’s do it.”

Last weekend I was up in Phoenix for my younger brother’s birthday (which was super nice btw) so it was the perfect time to get down on this huge boulder of a challenge. Just as I expected… This hike kicked my butt. In a good way! Keep in mind that I haven’t been very active these last few months basically because I suck and my laziness has taken over my life ever since I took on work, school, and research. Don’t judge me, I swear it’s more time consuming than it sounds… Add to that my not so healthy habits during that entire time and you got a heck of a (breathing) problem.

There are a few good things to come out of my asthmatic adventure, though. For starters I got to the top of the mountain LOL. The weather in Phoenix this weekend was pretty great too which made it all the more enjoyable. I also got to spend some quality time with one of my really good friends since I totally made her do the hike with me.  All in all, it was just a much needed workout and it resulted in a pretty amazing view of Paradise Valley. 🙂

Doing a little something that makes you a bit nervous can sometimes be a great thing. Not only did I get over my weird hesitancy at hiking Camelback but I got in some really good exercise and also the realization that I NEED to start being active again. I definitely encourage anyone reading this to go and do something fearless not just this February, but every once in a while!



#FearlessFebruary: Operation Goodbye Moana

20 Feb




Stay wild, stay adventurous, stay beautiful,

Lils xx

#FearlessFebruary: Creepy Crawlies

20 Feb

I hate bugs. I always have and I always will. For me, it doesn’t even matter the type of bug – scorpion, spiders, butterflies, lady bugs, crickets. I hate them all. They freak me out and give me the heebie jeebies. That being said, I recently got an internship at the Reid Park Zoo here in Tucson working with zookeepers to take care of the animals. As it turns out, diets for a lot of the animals in the zoo contain various types of bugs – crickets and worms to be exact. Also, one of the education tools is a colony of Madagascar hissing cockroaches. This is why for my #FearlessFebruary, I decided to face my fear of bugs.

Although I hate all bugs, I think cockroaches hold a special place of gross-ness. Even looking at them freaks me out. You know the people that breed cockroaches or eat cockroaches or actually like cockroaches in any way? Yeah I don’t understand those people at all. So at the zoo, there’s a self-sustaining colony of cockroaches that they use to teach kids about insects and exoskeletons and stuff like that. Even though it’s primarily self-sustaining, the zoo keeper still has to change out the food and water. My big step of facing this fear was looking at the cockroaches. I know, that sounds pretty pathetic. I’m sure you thought I was going to change their food or maybe even pick one up. Yeah… I couldn’t quite muster up that amount of courage. It actually took every ounce of willpower I had just to look in their container and not run away freaking out.

The next fear I had to face was crickets. Crickets are’t quite as bad as cockroaches, so I was able to convince myself to actually have to touch them. In the morning, all of the diets for the animals have to be gathered. Part of many bird diets is crickets, which are stored (alive) in a big trashcan with stacks of cardboard. When my zookeeper asked me to go collect the crickets for the day, I steeled my nerves, and approached the can. I’ll admit it took me a few tries to actually reach my hand in there, especially when they started jumping when I picked up the cardboard. Eventually I was able to collect some but I did jump every time one of them touched me.

My last experience was with worms. There are three different kinds of worms that are used as food. Collecting them isn’t an issue, since you just scoop them out of a bucket with a scoop and don’t actually have to touch them at all. However, there are four tamanduas at the zoo that eat these worms. A tamandua is basically a small (think raccoon size) anteater, so to hand feed them you have to put the food in your hand and make your hand into a tube so they can lick out the food with their long,  narrow tongues. This means that not only did I have to hold a bunch of worms in my hand, but I had to hold onto them pretty tightly and for a while while the tamanduas ate them. Talk about creepy crawly. The only redeeming part of that experience was that tamanduas are really cute and pretty fun to feed.

So that’s how I worked to face my fear of bugs. I think the most important part of this experience was that I worked to push myself outside of my comfort zone, but I didn’t push myself too far. For example, I was uncomfortable even looking at cockroaches, so if I would have jumped right into holding them, I wouldn’t have just stepped outside of my comfort zone, I would have blown right past it. This would have probably made a really negative experience for myself, instead of the one that I was in that was challenging but still allowed me to try something new. I think that it’s really important to challenge yourself, but also know your limits and not push yourself too far.

Take the time to do something that scares you today and challenge yourself! I hope you can face your fears this February.


#FearlessFebruary: Adulting is hard

20 Feb

As graduation quickly approaches, there are many aspects of “adulting” that fall squarely on my shoulders that were never there before. This month for Fearless February, I decided to tackle those big challenges and decisions head-on rather than hiding from them.

Taxes: This was the first year where I had to file my taxes on my own without my dad’s help. Thankfully, it was not too complicated! I just used Turbo Tax’s free online filing system, gathered all of my receipts for educational expenses, and got it done step-by-step. Of course, I was nervous so I had my dad check at the very end just to make sure I didn’t completely mess up.

Grad school: This month, I finished my grad school applications! It’s been a long time coming, so it feels great to finally be done. Writing a personal statement involves getting very vulnerable and conveying to admissions committees who you truly are. It took a lot of time and deep thought to figure out what I really wanted to say, but I eventually got over my fears of being real in the personal statement. Thinking about the future so seriously is terrifying, but it is inevitable. We all have to figure out what we are doing with our lives at some point.

It’s been a tumultuous month, but overall that has facilitated a lot of personal growth. No one likes adulting, but it is necessary to overcome the challenge.


Ready, Set, Go(al)

18 Feb

Goal setting can sound intimidating and tedious, but it doesn’t have to be either of those things. Whether your goal is personal or academic, it can be nice to put it down paper. One thing that helps me is telling my close friends and coworkers about my goals so that I feel motivated (and let’s face it: pressured) to complete them. Obviously, everyone has their own method when it comes to setting goals, but just in case you need a little inspiration here is my method:

  1. Write it down. It can be hard to remember what your long-term goals are when you are caught up in daily life. If it’s in writing, it feels more real (at least that’s the case for me). You can write down the necessary steps that will lead to accomplishing your goal, and then place that gratifying check mark when you complete a step.
  2. Try to specify exactly what you want as far as an outcome. This is really important. For example, if your goal is to workout more, how exactly do you measure when you achieve that? Maybe you tell yourself to work out three times a week or maybe you give yourself a “goal weight.” Regardless, having a finish line can make your goal a lot more actionable.
  3. Give yourself some kind of timeline. Depending on the goal – long term, short term, academic, or personal – the timeline is subject to debate. But set something loosely so that you can hold yourself accountable for meeting your “quotas.”
  4. What’s motivating your goal? So this is a little weird, but I do like thinking about this a lot. If I want something very badly (enough to write it down in my planner of all things!! (lol)), I better have a good reason for it. Make sure you have a healthy and smart reason for pursuing that goal so that you can go for it without anything holding you back.
  5. Schedule a little time in to reflect on where you’re at with your goals. Just think back on it. Are you making progress? If not, that’s totally okay. If this is something that you are passionate about, start taking steps towards progress. Even if they are just baby steps! 🙂
  6. Don’t go overboard! I can’t stress this enough. We are still so young, and there’s no need to have it all figured out right this instant. I have a tendency to overextend myself, and I have realized in my three years here — college is supposed to be fun too. So chill out sometimes!

-Amna 🙂