March, 2011

Spring Break 2011

ashley-85On televisions shows and movies, college kids all seem to go to Cancun or some other tourist beach for spring break. As I counted the days (and then hours) until my second spring break, going to the beach never crossed my mind.

Last year, I went home and told myself I was going to relax and do my homework and just enjoy the time off, little did I know then that I wouldn’t even have time to sit and relax. Being away at college means that when I come home everyone (and their mother normally) wants to see me. There is so much to do and so many people to see that I kept telling myself I needed more hours in the day!

This year, I was much more wise about my spring break plans. Living in the same space as an 8 month old, there is never time to relax. While I still did not touch an ounce of homework, I did volunteer at Head Start and it was an awesome experience! Being home was my favorite part, as it always is. And with the exception to Saint Louis experiencing a whole years worth of weather in 10 short days, snow and ice in the same week as a wonderful sunny 85 degrees always makes things interesting, Spring break was a nice break from the everyday stress of school. And maybe one year I will do the whole beach thing for spring break, but for now, there is no place like home.

If Time is Money, I’m SO Broke

jenny-85Time just seems to run away from me. There are never enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do. Can’t take a nap. Can’t go to the movies. Can’t go read a book for leisure because I’ll definitely end up reading it instead of the books I need for class. And then I can’t do the things that I need to do. Like study for that exam that’s coming up. Finish my homework. Can’t finish the insane amount of reading I have for my writing class. Time-management? Not my forte. It’s harder than I thought it’d be.

You’d think that you would have more time in college. Classes don’t start till nine or ten. Some classes don’t meet every day. You probably thought, “YES! Freedom!” Nope. Not at all. Between classes, lunch lines, laundry, coursework, clubs and sleep, me-time is cut down severely.

One thing I do is keep a planner. In this age, phones seem to have this application too, so no excuses. I first list the things that are due. For example, papers for writing class or problem sets for my science courses. Then I split them up into parts I can take on day by day. Do these things by Tuesday and then move on to the next part on Wednesday. Don’t take on everything on one day. Trust me. Papers don’t turn out too well when you’re writing while sleep-deprived.

Once things pile up, they can start to affect your grades. So, you may have to drop something, whether it be reading manga, watching Glee or gelling your hair Super-Saiyan style. Yes, all of these things are very important. But grades are more so. I, for one, realized that Korean dramas took up A LOT of my time. I would wait for them to air and then check if anyone put in subtitles. Then I would procrastinate too often to watch the shows. I understand how hard it is to quit cold turkey. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

You don’t come to college to socialize or play, so if it really comes down to it, you can be a hermit in your room for a few days and study or catch-up with classes. Your friends will understand. The disappearing act is only for a while. If they don’t, they might have a few attachment issues. (Ahaha.)

Meeting Shakira. I was melting…

jesse-85Times have been VERY hectic for me these past couple weeks, to say the least. A lot of work, a lot of studying, a lot of events to go to and organize. The new challenges that college puts forward can be a little overwhelming sometimes but be sure that with each new obstacle you overcome, you’re getting stronger.

And don’t think that all the hard work won’t pay off! It most definitely does. In big ways. Everything I’m learning, I can apply to my actual life and see things from a whole new perspective. I’m noticing things that I’ve never noticed before… It’s incredible.

And not only that, I’m having amazing experiences and meeting incredible people!

For example, guess who I met a couple weeks ago?

Give up?

SHAKIRA!! It was amazing. I don’t get star struck but I’m not going to lie, I lost my breath when Shakira waved and winked at me from the table across from where I was sitting. It was a platonic wink but nonetheless, I was melting.

This was all due to a Harvard event called Cultural Rhythms where the community gets to celebrate the diversity of Harvard students. It was a great time and the performances (and the FOOD) were phenomenal. Shakira was pretty cool too haha. Check out the video to see how it went!

And don’t forget that pretty soon, you’ll have the chance to meet AMAZING people when you get to college too.

But mom…I don’t want to do my homework yet!

jordan-85Hey everyone, I’m sorry for the delay between posts. I have been bombarded by never-ending essays, which brings me to what I am going to talk about today, time management!

Time management is crucial in all schooling, especially college. In high school I didn’t ever have to study extremely hard, like never hours on end, but college has definitely been a wake up call. Learn to manage your time wisely right away, no matter what age you are, because it will benefit you more than you can imagine.

The beginning of my first semester of college was sort of a crash course on time management, if you will. I learned early on that if I didn’t structure my day and allot sufficient time for studying and schoolwork, things wouldn’t be good. My first calculus test grade wasn’t good, and it was because of my lack of time management skills. Since then, I have improved greatly in managing my time wisely, but definitely still have some work to do.

I have a couple tips for you to help you manage your time the best you possibly can.  First off, make sure you place high importance on homework and studying. It may sound cliché, but focusing on homework and studying first before doing other things will be highly beneficial to you and your school performance.

My other piece of advice is that you must make sure not to rush through your homework and studies! I know it is tempting to scribble down the last few answers to your English homework, even if they are wrong, because your favorite television show is about to come on. Skimming over the pages of your textbook without actually reading them is also something most students do; I know I have. There will be time to watch TV and do whatever else it is you want to do, but getting schoolwork done first is a must. I know it might not be fun right now, but you will thank me one day!

Study, Nap, or Call of Duty? Decisions.

sophia-85Class. Nap. Library. Class. Class. Homework. Call of Duty. Sleep.

Yeah, that’s pretty much my week in a nutshell. Time management in college is extremely different than it was in high school. There is way more independence and prioritizing.

In high school, your day is scheduled for you. You have class and breaks are placed between them for you.

College is trickier. Your classes vary. I have a class at 6 p.m. on Monday and classes scattered throughout the day on Tuesday and Thursday. During the breaks, it’s up to me to decide where I’m going to go or what I’m going to do.

I usually schedule my breaks between classes in the library. I am able to finish all my work throughout my school day, leaving the time after school free for me to do other non-school related tasks.

There is a big difference in understanding what is more important to you, going out or studying. Everything revolves around your decision and what you feel like doing. Your time is truly under your control, which makes college a great place to grow and realize your goals.

One of the tips that has helped me the most is basically writing out my schedule every week. What I need to do, what classes I need to take, what meetings I have, and other important dates.

It helps me to have a visual of all my tasks so I can prioritize myself and realize that I cannot just waste my time.

It also helps me to have a friend help motivate me. If I need to study, I’ll let a friend know and they remind me or ask me if I’ve studied. It surprisingly helps.

One of the hardest aspects of college to deal with is being lost sometimes. You don’t even know where to start with time management, but thankfully there are people to help.

Academic advising allows me to talk to a professional and have them give me advice in what direction I should head in.

College is a whole lifestyle and time management might be the most dramatic change for me.

Handy Dandy…PLANNER!

seanna-85                Last week in Neuropsychology, my professor was explaining the short and long term effects of stress on the body.  The hypo-something interacts with the adrenal-something-else and cortisol a.k.a the stress hormone, is released in the body.  Short-term, stress can help you get through the all-night cramming session with that test you procrastinated for…it’ll help you finish that 5-mile marathon run that involved a mildly twisted ankle at the 2-mile mark…heck, it may even get you through final week four papers, two tests, and one final project later.  HOWEVER, after that test…after that run…and after final week, the prolonged influence of stress will often lead to a temporary immune system collapse, maybe a little bulge build-up, and most definitely, a bout of over-exhaustion. 

                In conclusion…STRESS is not good for the body, and yet, college students find themselves routinely anxious, running from one class to the next activity, squeezing in food and showers when time allows it…FORGETTING repeatedly to take that “me-time” for recuperation. 

                Enter…the planner…a well-structured, pre-organized, time-charted, life-saving strategy for stress management.  Sophomore year, I’ve been able to pull my planner from my bag more often than a stick of gum or lip gloss.  My fingerprints are permanently engraved on the front cover, but it has helped immensely with my ability to look at my entire week, prioritize to-do tasks, and SCHEDULE IN relaxation/party/”me” time.  Every year of college involves a new onslaught of activities and obligations that’ll fill the time.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them, even including the class assignments and study groups with friends.  This year, I’ve found myself learning to say “no” to some things…over-commitment is a sworn enemy of balance. 

                This week alone, I have a mid-term on Tuesday, commentary due on Thursday, four meetings, gym time, 16 hours of classes, two seminars to attend, over 300 pages of reading, and preparation/study time for next week.  But guess what I’ll be doing from 10-11:30 PM three nights this week?  I’m open to suggestions, but they can’t include ANYTHING that takes focus away from me taking time for myself.

Tons of unfinished thoughts

duylam-85It’s been a long time; way too long. I’ve been thinking about, planning, and have written posts, but I haven’t followed through on execution. And, in large, this is what this post is about.

There are times when things get put off. It’s inevitable with college. Deadlines after deadlines come up. So you push back that lunch with a friend or that book you’ve been meaning to finish. If things get especially hairy, you’ll wait until Monday at 3:00PM to finish your 5:00PM problem set (first hand experience?). The amount of stuff you want to do will continue to grow. It grows exponentially. The amount of time you have is constant. There is and always will be 24 hours in a single day for you to do what you can do.

But I implore you to remember that things put off should always be finished. Take an email response as an example. I’m sure we’ve all done it. Someone emailed you inquiring about xyz. I’ll get to it later today; they don’t need to know xyz right away. Today passes. Tomorrow is today now. Eventually, it continues until you finally respond. And tap and clack of your keyboard feels as if you’re pressing down with a ton of force. That email becomes heavy.

I think that feeling of an email response being heavy comes from the fact that we do want to finish things. And we will. So whatever it is that you do, finish it. Bring closure. Feeling like there are a million things to do means that you haven’t started to even dent your list so start doing, my friends.

Do or do not. There is no try.
- Duylam

Phantom Limb

seanna-85Imagine sitting at the kitchen table every night, head bent over bills, trying to make pennies stretch into places where dollar bills are necessary…

…Working fifty hours a week behind a desk, then returning to work five more hours each night, cooking…cleaning…ironing…reviewing eighth grade Math, English & Science…

…Walking in circles for a few hours…lost & disoriented…unsure of where you are, where you were going, and where you are now supposed to be…

…Your hand being unable to open that ketchup bottle…water bottle…jar of jelly…too weak to twist off that “easy-open” cap…

…Inserting shots into your stomach every two weeks to maintain consciousness, trying to find a spot that isn’t too sore from the last shot & isn’t too tough from the 60+ shots that came before…


You’re imagining my mom.


Imagine running from the bus to your house, running from bullies who grab you right before you make it to the door, throw down your bag and jump you…

…Sitting in class every day, frustrated by the endless numbers and words that jump out from the lifeless pages of your textbook, your uncertainty developing into embarrassment…

…Waiting for hours for your father to show up with that game he promised, only to find out that he wasn’t able to stretch his check that far…maybe next month…

…Burning inside with energy and anger that you can’t explain, can’t contain, and can’t shake…emotions that need to find their way out, but remain trapped inside…

…Struggling with teenage thoughts, hormones, & doubts…trying to find your way in a world where kids are cruel, teachers don’t listen, and Mom is on her own & stressed…


You’re imagining my little brother.


Imagine loving the opportunities that are presented at your college, embracing the friends, classes, teachers & new activities…

…Waking up each day with your own agenda, going to sleep at night with a list of things “To-Do” the next day…all seeming as urgent & important as yesterday’s…

…Being thankful that you’ve been blessed with so much, financial aid, Office of Black Student Affairs, mentors…knowledge…

…Picking up the phone to hear about how hectic your mom’s day has been…why your brother got suspended yet again, and how the car broke down on the interstate…AGAIN…

…Knowing that you can’t be there to beat up those bullies, iron his shirt, or open that ketchup bottle…

…Imagine 1,794 miles…


Now, you’re imagining me.


Growing up, I was my mom’s right hand.  I helped her before she realized she needed assistance.  I played with my brother, relishing in my role as his sister.  The six years between us made me more like a second mother than a big sister.  When I decided to go to school so far away from home, leaving family behind was the hardest decision.  I was still only a phone call away, but I was also $600 and at least 7 hours from home. 

My advice to those of you who are considering college out-of-state: GO FOR IT.  Weigh your options carefully, but the next four years of your life will be a time of growth, change, and adjustment.  Although I did get homesick my first year, and I hate hearing about the problems my brother & mom go through, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Pomona for anywhere else.  Learning to balance my life away from home with the one I had before & will have after graduation has helped me learn how to stay in contact with those that I care about & vice versa. 

You don’t lose your family or close friends by moving outside state lines.  In fact, those who are most important will remain with you, even if the communication style changes.  It also helps that my mom and brother are fully supportive of my decision, and that other students at school, including my best friend, traveled far from home, as well.  There will be up’s and down’s, but I know that looking back, I will appreciate the risk I took & the sacrifices that everyone dear to me made for these four years.  

I text my mom every morning & tell her good night, every evening…so even though I am not there physically, I’m still her right hand…and I’m still willing to go above and beyond as her daughter & as Thurm’s big sister…

“The distance is nothing…it is only the first step that is difficult…” (Madame Marie du Deffand)

College Choice and Homesickness

jenny-85Everyone congratulates you when you get accepted somewhere. Yay! Great! You got in! Whoo-hoo! But no one tells you that now…you must CHOOSE. It might not be hard for some. I mean, community college…or Harvard. Or maybe you had a college you were already set on. Great.

For me, I was only concerned with UC Davis and Amherst College. At first, I thought “UC Davis all the way!” It was convenient, close to home. My cousins went there. Mom and Dad wanted me nearby. And to someone who loved family above all else, Davis was going to be my choice. All my friends from elementary school and middle school were going to be there. I had it all planned out. It was going to be great!

One night, I thought about it. Did I really want to be in a big school and be just another number? Did I want to go somewhere and explore a bit? Be more independent? Those thoughts landed me in Amherst College. When I told my dad I wanted to go to Amherst, Dad didn’t talk to me for the whole evening. He just went on about his business, lost in thought. He almost walked into the door and then looked around to see if anyone was watching. I saw, but didn’t say anything, just chuckled to myself. I felt as if I needed to grow up, and then come back as a capable, independent person so I could take care of my family. He was not going to sway me from my decision.

Later that night, he gave me his awkward one-armed hug, and said, “You can do whatever you want. It’s your choice.” Translation of awkward daddy talk: I approve.

It’s hard being away from home. Food. FOOD! I’m sorry, but even professional chefs have nothing on my mom’s home cooking. I miss my friends. I mean, these are kids I shared candy with in 3rd grade. Sometimes, I see professors and their little children running about, and I immediately think of my little nine year old brother, and how I’d give anything to hug him right then and there. And then I pretend something flew in my eye when my friends ask why I’m crying.

To all of you considering going to school far away, there’s Facebook (Yes, I know, it’s a procrastinator magnet.). There’s video chat, email, phones. There’s something called mail. I know that they’re poor substitutes for the real thing, but I’m dealing with it too. Homesickness gets better with time. Trust me, once the work settles in, WHOO, you won’t have time to SLEEP! You’ll be fine.

Soon as exams are over, I’m flying home. And then run into the kitchen and demand that Mom make me a bowl of pho.