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Tuesday
02/28/17

Why My Science Major Failed to Make Me Smarter

Posted by bostonki on February 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

I’ve been a decided psychology major/education minor since maybe November, but I’ve already heard my share of downgrading from others who presume their “hard science” choice is better than mine.  “Oh, so you’re taking the EASY route!”, was an actual statement out of somebody’s mouth.  No sir, I’m taking the route that’s ENJOYABLE for me.

Anyways, a third of the semester has already passed us by, and I am well aware of one fact.  The courses I’ll be taking from here until the end of my college career will make me so much smarter than any of my hard sciences courses (biology, chemistry, calculus) did the first year and a half.  I feel more intelligent, feel as though my brain is forming new synaptic connections.  I leave a study session with one of those good headaches.

This is not at all to downgrade any hard science course.  We need exposure to some of those rigorous ideas in our education at some point.  But continuing on with it felt stagnant.  It truly was rote memorization, and in many cases, formula application.  There really was no thinking on my own, no coming up with new ideas or questions.  In science courses (especially introductory ones), the professors feed you the information and you’re expected to churn them out on the exam.  Many important concepts from introductory chemistry and biology have been lost on me at this point.  There are some who love the ideas and do engage themselves fully in questioning and thinking logically, but it was not for me.

Flash forward to this semester, in particular my ‘Introduction to Education’ course.  There is a great deal more of reading, where we are exposed to multiple ideas and standpoints about a topic.  There are in-class and online discussions, where we have to think about an issue and identify potential problems, come up with possible solutions, and have working knowledge of a mass of phenomena in order to achieve this goal.  We juggle multiple variables and attempt to put them together to understand the big picture.  We apply these to real world settings through required classroom observation.  I present conflicting ideas in discussions that people may not have even considered.  We look at the evidence to decide if Common Core is really working or not.  We do so much thinking in that course, so much so that I had to ask if we could take a break after an hour and a half because my brain was frying up.  I leave class feeling like I’ve made some personal advancements and feeling like my brain’s grey matter actually grew a bit.

That’s a class that’s going to make me smarter.  Most classes this semester are like that.  And if they are that familiar lecture-style, the professors don’t post the notes online to ensure you’re coming to class and engaging.  Most of the science professors I had didn’t seem to hold the students too accountable.  They’d throw the slides online and half the class wouldn’t be showing up by week 5.

And this is why I believe that my psychology major and education minor will make me smarter.

 

 

Monday
02/20/17

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba

Posted by bostonki on February 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba”.  Sound familiar?  It’s Zulu for “here comes a lion, father”, and I’m going to use it to help describe why I love mornings.

Last night I had trouble sleeping.  I don’t think I entered REM sleep until 2:30 in the morning.  That was probably due to the extensive nap I ended up taking after dinner.  Nonetheless, I woke up around 5:45 wide awake and ready to grind the morning out at Starbucks (I succeeded with the help of a sweet cream cold brew).  So, I got to watch the sunrise from my bed.

It starts out as a thin orange glow at the line of the horizon, and as the Earth rotates the sky becomes a rainbow of dark sky, light blue, and yellow-orange.  A bright glow reminiscent of the “Circle of Life” scene from the Lion King pops up and glints off the windows of South Lake Village in the distance and the semifrozen lake.  Fog rises from the hills on the walk to Starbucks and the dew makes the grass nice and crunchy.  The air at this point in the year smells crisp, fresh, and sweet.  Like the flowers are slowing thawing and the spring air is almost here.  It provides a nice but not unbearable zing to your nose.  You arrive to an empty Starbucks and get some iced coffee and a hot croissant straight out of the oven.  The air smells of cocoa beans and sugar, inviting a morning of productivity.  Music twinkles in your ears.

I am much more a morning person than one of nighttime.  I hate the sunset – it means that night is setting in, and the dark invites unwanted anxiety and occasional depression.  The morning, though, is full of promise.  You can make the day how you want it.  It’s a fresh start, and it’s especially peaceful when you’re seemingly the only one up.  You feel as though you have the whole world to yourself, just for a little bit.  I think on the walk from my room to Starbucks at 6:30, I only saw one person and they were riding a bike.  You know you look at too many memes when you see that they’re wearing very loose black clothes and immediately think of this guy:

Well, Happy Monday folks.

 

Tuesday
02/14/17

Spring 2017: The Test of my Stress Resources

Posted by bostonki on February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

4 classes.  One which involves extensive paper writing and classroom shadowing on our own time.  11 hours of paid work every week.  7 or 8 study abroad scholarships to submit by the end of March.  An online Australia orientation, and masses of paperwork to fill out.  Fall 2017 academic and housing planning.  The next three months are promising to be a workout of all the stress coping-resources I’ve gained since the start of freshman year.

I’ve heard it gets worse.  Harder classes, grad school applications, research, actually living in an apartment and being responsible for your own cooking (the audacity), and probably much more that my fellow junior and senior friends can fill in the gaps with.  Point is, it never gets easier.  So now is the time to learn how to healthfully deal with stress.  Some of my favorites I’ve listed below – I’ll let you know at the end of the semester if I actually managed to follow through with them and if they helped keep my stress levels at bay (but so far in week #3, we’re looking good).

1.) UTILIZE THE GYM/FITNESS OPTIONS

UB has athletic facilities in alumni (which I don’t use) but I assume they have the standard treadmills and weights.  They also have a swimming pool and racquetball court (which I find very zen-like on its’ own).  At the Richmond gym, there’s cardio and weights.  The school offers so many different levels of free yoga classes at night.  And outdoor basketball and tennis courts.  And ice skating in the winter.  The campus is also extremely bike-friendly.  The point is, it’s so easy to get active and exercising is associated with lower stress levels, so do it.  Duh.

I mean seriously, it cannot get more zen than this.

2.) Hit up Edgy Veggies

You’ll want to here.  Just not the prepackaged ones unless they’re from Au Bon Pain.  Hit up Edgy Veggies every once in awhile, you’ll be glad you did (psst.. try the Seneca Apple Chicken Salad, please).  I’m also proud of Au Bon Pain’s soup offerings.  At least three different kinds of intense veggie soup and some heartwarming broccoli & cheddar for those that want to at least convince themselves they’re eating healthy.

3.) Get lost in the shelves of Lockwood

I’m the type of person who gets relaxed in the presence of books.  If you’re a fan of musty-smelling books and those on really obscure topics, try traipsing through the aisles of Lockwood.  All five floors are filled with books and it would take days to look through the collection thoroughly.  I could have sworn there was a section about the Walt Disney Company on the fifth floor.  Also, fiction novels like a community library.  And yes, you can check things out.  Pretty much forever as long as no one needs them.

Lockwood’s awesome but does not beat the Beast’s library. *sigh*

4.) Take advantage of tea

If you’re in the Honors College, come take advantage of the consistently free tea, coffee, and hot cocoa in the lounge.  Attend Elevenses if you’ve always wanted to raise your pinky in the air while you sip.  Also, the Health & Wellness Center (is that what it’s called) located by the UB theatre in the Union has a really nice dark lounge with tons of magazines and free tea.  I’ve heard there are massaging chairs and free massages, but I cannot confirm this.

I’m sure there are so many more things available to UB students to help with stress reduction, but my brain cells are fried so I’m going to log off and crack open Eat, Pray, Love.  After, you know, I do my readings for class tomorrow.

Tuesday
02/07/17

The Mid-College Crisis

Posted by bostonki on February 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

It’s a real thing – somewhere around the middle of a student’s sophomore year, they somehow manage to realize how much time has passed them by and how they have less than an opportune amount of time left to prepare themselves for the next step.  A.K.A, the mid-college crisis.  I’m the perfect example.

I spent the first year and a half of college exploring my interests and developing myself personally.  Doing this is inevitable, and it’s safe to assume that the first two years of college is a lot better time to discover yourself than when you’re almost thirty.  The disappointing part is that graduate schools don’t care about how much “self-actualization” or “character development” or “mental illness-overcoming” you’ve done, they care about the academic and community endeavors on that resume.  These are hard things to do when depressed, anxious, and unsure of yourself.  Now that I’ve finally settled into what I think is a major I want to complete and carry on with, I feel immense pressure to get the four-year experience in the five semesters I have left.

Why, even though I already have education-related work experience, the blog, a position in the Honors College, and the studying abroad I’m embarking on this summer, do I feel as if my resume is still flat?  There are so many things left that I want to accomplish before graduation – psychology research, being a teaching assistant, and joining a club, just to name a few.  I imagine I’m not the only one who has already begun to worry about grad school resume-loading.  You are not alone.

So, the question remains.  How can we combat this?  Social psychology’s Comparison Theory states that when we compare ourselves with somebody else who we perceive as inferior to us in whatever way, we feel better about ourselves.  The opposite is true for comparison to others that we feel are superior to us.  While listening to the guy sitting next to you in World Civilizations II claim that he “got all 20’s and 30’s on his tests last semester” makes us feel better about our lackluster resumes, we shouldn’t really go by this principle.  Try being positive.  Trust that you have been working hard and growing in your personal and career endeavors, and that your hard work will pay off.  Trust that you will end up where you’re supposed to be.  Keep up the hard work and try to get involved, but make sure to do so in ways that interest you (I, for, example, am writing this blog).  The benefits will be greater.  Just have faith, and watch your guilty pleasure TV show while binging on a comforting snack every once in a while.

These six people (or is it three?) have faith that you can do it.