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Thursday
03/30/17

Is it Summer Yet?

Posted by caaponte on March 30, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year, Mental Health

I find myself having a hard time focusing because I keep thinking about the glorious light at the end of the tunnel that is summer vacation. Three months to spend how I please. Now, I know I will not be able to enjoy it if I do not do well for the next 8 weeks BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream of what life will be like when I can walk outside and see that thing called the sun.

I think it’s good to keep that light at the end of the tunnel in mind because it keeps you motivated and reminds you why you are in college in the first place. Always striving for a better life, a career that will allow you to fund your backpacking trips, and making your mom proud…right?

If you’re anything like me, you have a list of things you want to do as soon as you have more time. On June 1st, applications for dental school open and I plan to get mine out ASAP so that I can relax as I play the waiting game and wait, wait, wait to hear back from the schools I chose to apply to.

Life doesn’t ever necessarily get easier, even during summer vacation. But I think as humans we inherently look where we believe the grass is greener. For me, it’s a time when I’m not taking 22 credits and I am instead cooking with my mom while listening to Andrea Bocelli.

By now it’s evident that none of my thoughts are transitioning well. But what else can you expect from a college student midway through the semester? Don’t worry about me. I just had a nice cup of coffee. Focusing on what is important here – Study hard, enjoy it later.

Sunday
03/26/17

The Teammate That Throws You Under the Bus

Posted by caaponte on March 26, 2017 in University Life

Let me set the stage for you the best I can without giving out too much information.

I worked on a research project this past summer with a student from another university and this past weekend we presented our work. We had some fallouts over the summer but our relationship was very “brother-sister” like. Sometimes he made me feel like I was inadequate…sometimes he made me cry from laughing…and other times he saved us from when I got us lost. When you’re abroad with someone, you learn a lot about each other. You have to be there to fill in the gaps where they need you. And that’s exactly what we did.

Fast forward to last week – he texted me a few days beforehand to make sure I had printed out our manuscript so that I could go over it with the judges. “Wear something nice to impress the judges. See you soon!” All from a good place. We are both competitive (the route of our earlier disputes) and we both wanted to win the poster competition. I spent the next couple days nervously going through our manuscript, past literature, and things I felt the judges might ask us.

Fast forward to the day before our presentation – I was the last of our cohort to arrive to Boston where the conference was held. He had arrived earlier that morning and had taken a nap while waiting for me to arrive. I go to his hotel room, so excited to see him after all this time, and we catch up quickly before I notice he started to brush off what I was saying to instead read over our manuscript. Okay, work time. I can pick up social cues. So I pull out mine and start going over what I wanted to make sure we highlighted in our presentation.

Beep. Ring. Zzzzzz. His phone keeps going off.

First of all – who leaves their phone on like that when they’re not by themselves. I looked at him (in efforts to get moving on what we would be presenting in less than 12 hours) and said, “What sections did you want to present? I’m comfortable with any section.” He looked up at me (and at this point I see he is looking over the Introduction) and said, “I don’t know. I have to go over this first. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve looked at this.” And to that – I’m left annoyed that someone would make sure I have it together when they are napping and taking their time to go over it.

Fast forward to 10 minutes before our presentation – I’m freaking out. Nerves have a weird way of creeping up on me and I went blank on everything I had reviewed.

Fast forward to Judge #1 – Breathe Christina, just breathe. I remembered what my mentors from CSTEP had told me before. You are the expert of your research project. No one knows it better than you do.

Fast forward to when I regained my confidence – Got a question? I have an answer. I was able to answer the judges thrown at me from the judges with ease all thanks to the preparation I had put in. Now, we didn’t win the poster competition (although how cool would that have been?) but I did feel as though I accomplished something great. After what was a rough last semester, I finally regained my confidence and felt a lot less of “Am I cut out for this?” and more of “I am ready for whatever you can throw at me.”

Fast forward to right now – I am on a plane back to my hometown of Rochester, NY and I am enjoying my window seat. I complimented my research partner on his delivery of the biological mechanisms after the awkward silence following our first presentation. I think my nervousness made him more nervous. But we’re a team, right? And I pulled it together for what I thought was a successful presentation. I just wish he said something…anything…so I could hear SOME feedback. As a team, neither of us is better than the other. Because if I fall, so does he and vise versa. So if he could do a little less talking about how stressful it is at an Ivy League school and how tired he is and how much work he has to do – I would feel more respected as his teammate.

Fast forward to the future – the student and I remained in touch post-abroad but as for where we go in the future…I’m not so sure. I hope to always remain in contact but now I feel as though we have lost that “I’ll be there to build you up when you’re down”-type relationship. He’s not better than me and I’m not better than him. We were teammates as far as I am concerned. Just because I do not go to an Ivy League school, does not mean that I was not accepted into the same summer program as he was. Anyways, onto the next project….my time at UB isn’t over just yet.

Wednesday
03/08/17

Up All Night

Posted by caaponte on March 8, 2017 in Junior Year, Mental Health

We have all been in the situation where we have an exam coming up, feel completely unprepared, and then take it upon ourselves to pull an all-nighter. Are there any benefits to this? From personal experience, I see no benefit in terms of the grade you get on the exam you stayed up all night for.

Sleep scientists can agree that at night there are fewer distractions and students have an easier time controlling their environment. Well, except for the bell on South Campus that rings every hour. At least I think I heard it every hour..? Maybe I was too busy studying weeks worth of material in one night to notice.

According to researchers here at UB, people who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night are more likely to develop conditions that precede Types 2 diabetes than those who sleep for longer. A sleepless night can lead to short-term euphoria and impaired decision-making ability.

BUT IF YOU DO PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER

Research suggests doing some “sleep-banking” beforehand. The night of –  Be sure to drink caffeine routinely throughout the night, take a 90-100 minute nap after you complete your task, work in bright light, and be sure to get to bed early that night.

And now I sound like I’m preaching….

NOT my intention. I was just doing some research and figured I would also share it with you.

With that said, I am going to go to bed. Goodnight.

Monday
03/06/17

The Power of Communication

Posted by caaponte on March 6, 2017 in Future of the United States

For those of you who were there to watch Trevor Noah this past Saturday, you’ll know what I’m talking about. UB brought us a man who could combine his comedy with light brushes of politics and appreciation for diversity. He touched upon the power of communication. The more you learn of other languages, the more you learn how powerful words can be. The idea resonated with me and kept me thinking.

Noah talked about the fear he sees in Americans when they speak. No one wants to say the wrong thing. As a result, we often keep things bundled inside. Yet, negative thoughts are just as bad as having them said them out loud. Or are they?

We whisper words like “black” in order to “not seem racist.” What did Noah advise for us to do? He said, “in order to not seem racist, just don’t be racist. If you’re not racist, you will not have to worry about others thinking you’re racist.”

He proceeded on to discuss the power of the “n” word here in the United States. He recognizes the word as “to give” and it brings him back to childhood memories with his mother and cousin. He questioned why we have given the word so much value and urged us to question how it had gained so much power. We use it to degrade and to hurt. However, eliminating the word all together does not solve the problem of racism. Quite frankly, if it was not that word, there would be another word ready in substitution to ensure it continues to cause harm.

I suppose what I am getting at here is how powerful communication can be. You can “like” a picture, avoid eye contact, nod while listening, say “mhm,” and they all offer a response without using a single word. Aside from nonverbal forms of communication, we have been given a multitude of words to choose from to tell our stories. I find myself telling stories I have heard from my grandmother only to explain afterward that it is funnier said in Spanish. How can something be funnier in Spanish? Sit down and let me tell you it and you will hear the difference.

You don’t have to speak another language to see the power of language. But the next time you choose to speak, consider where the conversation will head. Many times we only have our word, and that can open a door or permanently close it.