Archive | November, 2013

What do you do when you just don’t know what to do?

21 Nov

So I’ve been trying really hard not to blog only about how stressed out I am…(because I think it adds to my stress level…and makes me sound like a broken record).

But the sad truth is, first year life is all about stress.

You have to learn how to manage your stress…or you’ll explode.

You have to learn that stress can’t rule your life…or you’ll be miserable.

And you definitely have to learn that stress IS conquerable…(trust me).

I know now, after having been in university for 3 months, that how well you’re going to do academically depends a lot upon how you deal with stress.

I’m sorry if me talking about stress is reminding you of your own stress, but I’m partly writing this to remind myself that I can beat my stress…

It’s a pep talk in a blog for you and me!

Perhaps I should explain what I’m stressing out about.

Next week, I have 3 essays due, a group presentation, and a test.

Yeah. It’s a lot. I know.

But surprisingly, the thing that’s stressing me out the most is the essay part.

I’m usually good at writing (which is why I was surprised)…but I encountered my archenemy yesterday while trying to write an outline for one of my essays: the evil Writer’s Block.

Man, writer’s block is one of my biggest pet peeves.

It’s soooooo annoying when you know what you need to do, but the words won’t come.

I was incredibly frustrated.

I tried to take a 10-minute break, hoping to clear my head.

That didn’t work.

I thought, maybe taking a couple minutes to listen to my favourite song would help.

It didn’t.

I tried taking a walk to Tim Horton’s…you know, to get fresh air and donuts…a surefire combination to beat stress, right?

Wrong.

But then, it hit me.

The solution was so obvious! I just had to look at the facts:

Fact #1) I love to play sports.

Fact #2) Basketball always makes me feel relaxed.

Fact #3) I like to work out.

Ding, ding, ding…hello!!! Go to the gym, dummy!

So I went to the RAWC, burned some of my useless, restless energy on the elliptical, then pumped a little iron to make me feel a little stronger and a little more confident.

When I was done, I felt totally recovered from my stress and frustration.

I didn’t get my whole essay done that day, but at least I felt better and more positive about it after hitting the gym….and I no longer felt like my brain was about to explode.

So the next time you’re stuck, and you’re banging you’re head against your keyboard, and you just want to take your laptop and throw it at a wall…don’t.

Do something that makes you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be the gym…but think about the places that make you feel the most relaxed or the activities that calm you down and….well….just go there and do it!

Take it from me…it works!

What do you do to rid yourself of writer’s block? Let me know!

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Someone’s in the Kitchen…And She Probably Shouldn’t Be

19 Nov

So there’s been one aspect of university life that I never thought I would get into: cooking.

As soon as I learned that I would be staying in a townhouse-style res, my first thought was: “Great! I’ll have my own kitchen!”

But after thinking about it for a little while, I realized that I’ve never really cooked much of anything before. So what some would see as an advantage over a more traditional-style residence was not really an advantage for me.

However, if you’ll allow me, I would like to take a moment to brag about my skills with a microwave…

I can microwave anything that has microwavable instructions…soup, mac & cheese…you name it! I can microwave any kind of leftovers—seriously, ANYTHING. I can even microwave popcorn without burning it or leaving an annoying amount of unpopped kernels. And—most impressive of all—never once have I put anything metal in the microwave.

So I thought that the only time I would use my kitchen was when I wanted to microwave something to eat.

But I have exceeded my expectations.

No joke—I’ve turned into a master chef.

I’m serious (don’t laugh).

Check out my dinner last night:

Yup…chicken and pasta…

And no, I swear I did not make it in the microwave.

Man, it looks so good!

What’s that? You’d like a close-up?

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

Mmmmmmm……cheese…….

And I also know you’re mouth is watering.

What’s that? You want the recipe?

Well, I can’t give it to you.

Like a magician never reveals the secret of his tricks, I cannot possibly reveal the secret of my master chef abilities.

I can, however, show you what else I’ve cooked up:

Chicken alfredo…..mmmmmmmmmmm…a slightly different form of pasta.…

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

It’s like you can taste it, right?

You might also be noticing a pattern forming.

I could eat chicken and pasta for every meal, every day of my life.

But you may not feel the same way; you might want to see something different.

Well, have no fear…this girl is no one-trick pony!

Check this out:

Impresssive, no?

Well, it would be if I had actually made this…

But—(just kidding!)—I didn’t.

I’m not even really sure if I could identify what’s in the picture other than the lobster tail.

But, really, I doubt anyone fell for this…lobster on a student’s budget? Yeah, right…(I wish).

The truth is, pasta is pretty much the only thing that I’ve made as of yet—if you don’t count all the stuff I make in the microwave…

The one time that I tried to do something different, I failed miserably.

I tried to make shrimp in the oven…but I totally burnt it.

Although, my original plan was to put the shrimp in pasta…so I guess burnt or not, it really doesn’t count as “different”.

And I guess me telling you this story pretty much reveals the true extent of my cooking abilities.

I guess I have no choice but to admit that I’m not actually a master chef.

I’m also not too good to share my recipes…the fact is, I pretty much just boiled noodles, cooked some chicken pieces, and threw some sauce on them.

But, hey, confidence is important….especially when you don’t have the skill to back it up! 😉

Has anyone else out there had a cooking fiasco? What’s your favourite thing to make? Any true master chefs around? Let me know!

Parental Guidance

15 Nov

I’ve been feeling a little stressed lately. Nothing new.

I’ve got three essays to write, a group presentation to do, and a couple more tests before the end of the semester in two weeks.

Oh yeah…and then I guess there’s exams to worry about.

Even though I’m unloading the sources of my stress here in my blog, I’m not usually the type to whine and complain. I just bottle up the stress and no one would ever know that I was worried about anything. I look pretty calm, cool, and collected 24/7.

But there are a couple people that I can’t fool: my parents.

Since I know that they can tell when I’m stressed, I usually just tell them about my problems.

I’ll text my mom and dad about the tests I’m studying for, or about the essay that I’m writing. And generally, they either reassure me…or they make me laugh.

It’s as my dad always says: “The only people in the world that truly care about you are your family.”

My first thought after hearing this comment from my dad is usually something like: “Awww…that’s sweet.”

But then I learned that my parents bought a brand new big screen TV as soon as I moved out.

Huh…I’m getting a bit of a mixed message here.

(Seriously, as soon as I move out you buy a new TV? I’m gone so you can splurge and make fun purchases? Oh yaaaa, you must really be missing me!)

Don’t worry, I’m kidding. I know you care about me.

If my parents didn’t care they wouldn’t send me those amazing texts whenever I need a little confidence boost.

For instance, I was telling my mom about my best midterm mark and she said:

“An 89% on a university test is pretty darn impressive. You’re one smart cookie.”

 

                                                     

 

I then told them about a minor cooking fiasco I had where I burnt some shrimp I had in the oven.

My dad’s response:

“And you got an 89% on your test?”

There are different ways of being smart, Dad. I read textbooks, not cooking instructions!

My dad also tries to make sure that I’m not overly confident. I’ll tell him I did something good, and he’ll say:

“Remember, no matter how good you are, there’s always somebody out there that’s better.”

My father: forever the realist.

I was telling my dad the other day about all the essay writing that I have to do. He gave me this advice:

“Just get it done. You don’t want it to be too perfect or they’ll expect that from you all the time.”

Very true. Don’t want to raise my TA’s standards too high for the next time.

But then there are those times when I tell my parents about tests that I didn’t do so hot on.

The most common response again comes from my father:

“You should’ve gone to plumbing school…you’d always have work. The world needs plumbers.”

 

                                            

 

Okay Old Man, agreed. But I think I’m going to see how the rest of this university thing plays out first if that’s okay with you.

Sometimes I think that my parents are crazy, but they do make me feel better when I’m feeling the pressure of first year life. Thanks, guys.

But seriously though…you couldn’t have bought that big screen while I was still at home?

My Top 10 Classroom Pet Peeves…(REALLY? You have to do that now?)

15 Nov

I don’t want to sound pessimistic or preachy here…but we really need to talk.

There are some things that you just don’t do in class. Here’s my list – if you think I’m missing something, let me know!

#10 – People that walk in late.

Now, I’m not talking 5, 10 minutes late…I mean coming into the lecture when it’s half over. There comes a point where you just have to admit that you missed class and give up.

                                        

#9 – The Prof is late.

I have a lot of respect for my Profs, but…really? You’re the one person in the room that should not be consistently late.

#8 – People that leave early.

I get it…sometimes you have legitimate excuses to leave class early, but I’ve seen people get up in the middle of a lecture, walk right in front of the Prof while he/she is teaching, and leave the room. Granted, this is probably more annoying for the Prof…but it’s still distracting for me when I’m trying to pay attention.

#7 – People that try to save seats for their friends.

I get it…you want to sit with your friends in class. So, you save seats for them by putting your coat on the chair beside you, or your backpack…which makes sense when it’s only one or two seats you’re trying to save. However, I’ve seen people abuse this system by trying to save an entire row of seats. They put a coat on one chair, their book on another, a pencil case on the next, and so on until all they have left to save a seat with is a pen.

Really? A pen? If you’ve tried to save so many seats that all you have left to put on one is a pen, you’ve gone too far.

#6 – People who put their feet up on the chair beside me.

Really? If it’s a widely accepted taboo if you’re in a movie theater, so don’t do it in a lecture hall.

                                        

#5 – People talking.

Again…if you wouldn’t do it in at the movies, don’t do it in class!

#4 – People that try to carry on a conversation with me during class.

I’m okay with the occasional comment from the person sitting beside me, but I really don’t want to have a whole conversation while I’m trying to listen to the lecture. And if you’re just telling me the answer to a question or giving your opinion about something the Prof has just said, don’t tell me…raise your hand!

#3 – People that use whatever means necessary to plug something in.

                                                      

Let me tell you an awkward story.

I’m sitting in the seat closest to wall and the nearest outlet. I’m not using said outlet. A person sitting beside me wishes to charge their phone. Said person leans over me to get to the outlet. This person has trouble reaching the outlet. They keep trying, and keep reaching over me. They might as well be sitting in my lap. This person is a stranger to me. They did not simply ask me to plug in the charger for them.

Really?

#2 – People that watch YouTube videos in front of you.

Why bring a laptop to class if you know you’re not going to be able to resist the temptation to watch something? I got really distracted the other day in class when a guy in front of me was watching NBA basketball highlights on YouTube.

Really? It couldn’t even be a video of something I’m totally not interested in like a cat video or twerking?

#1 – People that eat during class.

Here’s another story for you.

I’m sitting in class when I realize that I haven’t eaten yet that day. My stomach starts growling…I start thinking about what I want to eat…I’m picturing myself with a nice, big sub in my hands…I can’t wait for this hour to be over so that I can hit up Subway….

And then, a guy comes in—late (ugh)—and sits down beside me. He reaches into his bag, pulls out a foot-long sub and starts going to town.

                                             

I know I keep saying this, but if ever there was a situation worthy of a “Really?”…it’s this one.

So, once and for all…

REALLY? I mean, REALLY though…

Eighteen…or Eighty?

9 Nov

Today was not my day.

As a student, there are times (lots of times) when I feel tired, overworked, and like there just aren’t enough minutes in a day.

Translation: I sometimes feel really old. Like OLD WOMAN old. Like I’m 80 instead of just 18.

I felt especially old today.

First of all, I woke up with all kinds of sore muscles from having six days straight of basketball practices and games.

Then, because of all my basketball lately, I was in desperate need of clean laundry. I have special socks that I wear only for basketball, and I had no more clean pairs. I knew that I would need a pair for my next game, not to mention a clean jersey, so I did a load of laundry.

Now I know what you’re thinking…

The next thing I’m going to say is that I shrunk all of my clothes, or that I lost some socks, or that I dyed everything funny colours…but you would be wrong.

Nope…you’re giving this old lady way, WAY too much credit.

You’re assuming that my dirty socks actually made it into my load of laundry…which they didn’t.

Yes that’s right…I left all of my dirty socks in my gym bag and forgot to get them out and put them with my dirty clothes. So when I went to do my laundry…no socks. And I didn’t notice until after.

So the very reason I had for doing laundry in the first place somehow slipped my mind.

Apparently I’m very forgetful in my old age.

Speaking of being forgetful…

I decided after doing laundry that I needed to go for a walk. My kitchen was looking kind of bare so I thought I would go to Wal-Mart to get some groceries and some other things that I needed for my house.

Now, I had very specific things that I knew I needed to get.

I guess I don’t have to tell you that I ended up purchasing maybe half of them.

Let’s see…I forgot Band-Aids, cheese, eggs, garbage bags, and…and…oh man. There was something else…nope…it’s gone. I quit.

There was also something that I needed to return to Wal-Mart (I bought the wrong kind of ink cartridge for my printer the last time) but do you think I remembered to bring the receipt? No.

So clearly, I need some solutions for my old lady issues.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1.  To take care of my sore muscles, I just keep Voltaren on my nightstand. (Which isn’t weird, I swear…all the kids are doing it)

 

2. For my forgetfulness, I’ve discovered a wonderful invention: the sticky note.

I write down everything that I need to do or buy or remember on a sticky note and I stick it to a surface that I know I either walk by or touch everyday.

For example, I need my student card to get into the gym, and I always forget it…so:

Bam! Right on the light switch!

I was writing an outline for an essay and I kept coming up with really great ideas that I needed to keep track of…so:

Bam! Sticky note flow chart right on my bedroom wall!

I needed to remember to print off an assignment in the morning…so:

Bam! Right on the alarm clock!

I needed to remember my grocery list and I knew it needed to be stuck to something that I look at everyday because I might not shop for a week…so:

Bam! Stuck it to the mirror on my wall…now every time that I look at myself, I see my grocery list. It’s perfect.

Now you may be thinking: “Wow, she fixed all her problems with no help from anybody else! Impressive!”

But the truth is, I do have one more problem:

What happens when I run out of sticky notes?

Oh yeah, that’s right…I’ll forget to buy more because I won’t have any sticky notes to write it down on…

(Sigh). It never ends.

 

Getting Involved

8 Nov

Last night was an exciting night for me: I made my debut as a UTM Eagle.

                                        

I play on the women’s basketball team. Now, I’m not telling you this simply as a way to brag about myself or about my team (although we did beat Scarborough 43-28…just sayin’…).

I’m telling you this because I now know firsthand that getting involved on campus has so many benefits for a first year student. Here are just a few of them:

It gives you something else to do with your time other than studying and going to class. You need that break from books and lecture halls or you’ll drive yourself crazy. (Trust me, during midterms, all I did was sit in my room and study…I didn’t realize how crazy it was making me until I forced myself to take a break and go for a walk).

A sport is the perfect way to stay in shape. If you were like me and were concerned about putting on a Freshman 15, a sport is a fun way for you to be active without really realizing that you’re getting a good workout.

Joining an extra-curricular is also one of the best ways to meet people. Not only will you find friends from all different programs and years, you’ll find people that automatically have similar interests as you.

Now I know that most people are probably already aware of these benefits, but the problem is, even though these aren’t exactly secrets I’m spilling, most students won’t get involved on campus.

Some people think that extra-curriculars will distract them from their studies or that they just don’t have time to fit them into their schedules. Well I think that sports and clubs are the absolute best ways to de-stress…they just make you feel good. When you feel better, happier, and more relaxed, you will be more enthusiastic about being in a classroom and you’ll do better academically.

And as far as putting yourself out there, well…it wasn’t easy for me. I was incredibly nervous to go to try-outs. I am not the most out-going or adventurous person in the world, so going to a try-out with all new people was intimidating. Especially since I had just moved away from home for the first time, so I was already at my limit for going outside of my comfort zone.

But I did it anyway.

I went to try-outs and now I play with a great group of girls. I realized at our home-opener how much I had missed playing basketball and that I would probably be miserable if I hadn’t tried out and had to go a full year without playing.

Moral of the story? Get involved.

I know that it’s difficult as a first year student to put yourself out there when you’re already dealing with so much change.

But a little anxiety and a little discomfort will pay off in the long run.

If it doesn’t, well, feel free to blame me for this advice.

And it doesn’t have to be sports either….join a club (there’s all kinds of them) or volunteer or work on campus.

I want to know what you think….

Do extra-curriculars enhance the university experience? How do you get involved on campus? Why?

Confessions of a Chronic Procrastinator / Napper

1 Nov

Current time: 12:52 a.m. on a Thursday night.

Do I have class in the morning? Yes.

What am I still doing up? Well, I’m pretty much just hating myself for waiting until the last possible moment to finish my bio assignment.

What’s my excuse? Simple: I forgot it was due.

To be honest though, even if I had remembered that I had to do it, I wouldn’t have done it…I had to study for my 3 midterms this week. So it’s safe to say that a little biology assignment would have gotten pushed to the bottom of my to-do list anyways.

So now you know that I’m a bit of a procrastinator…but I have another confession: it is way, WAY past my bedtime. It’s almost 1 o’clock in the morning for crying out loud!

I like my sleep. I really, truly think that it is important. I’ve always felt a bit ahead of my time in this respect. I love to nap in the middle of the day and I love it when I get a good night’s sleep. I’m 80 years old at heart.

My friends have always known that I like my naps. They also know that I have a strict bedtime. Whenever I text them past 10 p.m. they think something is wrong.

In fact, a little while ago, I texted my friend around 11 p.m. and he immediately commented on the fact that it was past my bedtime. Being a little insecure about my elderly-woman-habit, I of course denied the fact that it was past my bedtime, even though it was. He then went on the tell me that he knew that I would have to double up on my naps the next day to make up for it.

My argument? “I’m a mature university student now! I’m an adult! I don’t need to take naps!”

Was this statement true? Absolutely not.

Naps are the best. They are so refreshing and relaxing…but I’ve been so busy lately with studying for my midterms that I haven’t been able to indulge in my guilty pleasure for a long time. Too long.

I realized last night that I have been far too study-focused this past week. It’s been intense. It can’t be healthy to lock yourself in your room with nothing but your textbooks and notes for the better part of a week. I thought I knew that, but I let myself get wrapped up in midterm stress; something I vowed that I wouldn’t do.

I made this realization when I had yet another conversation about my sleep habits with my best friend from high school.

She texted me around 10:30 p.m. and I told her that I was studying. She was amazed that I was still awake (of course). In high school she was kind of like my life coach/ therapist/ overall motivator. She tried to get me to kick my procrastination habit and to do all my homework and assignments well before the due dates.

So naturally, I figured that she would be proud of me for staying up to study for my midterm, but the reply of “Good girl!” that I was expecting turned out to be a piece of advice that I needed to hear. It snapped me out of my weeklong study/zombie mode and back into my old self.

She said:

“Go to sleep, bro.”

Thanks, bro. That’s all I needed to hear.