A Day in the Life of an HPA – Hannah Braun (guest blogger)

Hey Blue Hens! We hope you had a great experience with your virtual New Student Orientation! During one of the Honors Community & Enrichment Live Sessions or your advisement appointment, you may have met some Honors Peer Advisors (HPA). HPAs are a team of upper-division Honors students who work to prepare incoming Honors Freshmen for their Fall semester. You can read all about us here.

Over the summer, you probably received emails from us about Course Preference Forms. You may have even gotten a phone call from us about a seemingly endless string of tasks that we admit can get a little confusing. But when we aren’t making calls helping you sort out what needs to be done before you come to campus, we are working behind the scenes to make your college transition as smooth as possible. We want to make your Honors New Student Orientation interactive, informative, and engaging. 

If you’d like to hear more about what a typical day in the life of an HPA was like, keep reading! Read More

“That’s All Folks!” by Alyssa Schiff

And just like that, the spring semester of 2020 has come to a close. For some, this is the end of life at UD and in college. What would already be an incredibly bittersweet, exciting, and uncertain time has now been made more bittersweet and uncertain by the global pandemic. Seniors have not been able to say goodbye to professors, friends, and the campus as a whole. Closure for the end of this chapter will need to wait until we are able to have an in-person graduation at a later date.

Having said all of this, it seems the world really is sympathizing with seniors. In the past few days I watched as John Krasinski held a virtual graduation and commencement for graduating seniors on his YouTube show “Some Good News,” bringing together countless celebrities including Jon Stewart, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and even Malala Yousafzai. Then another virtual ceremony was held featuring the Obamas, LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Pharell Williams, and many many more.

What a strange time to be entering “the real world.” Despite the uncertainty and obvious disappointment in losing a typical senior spring, this is also a time of gratitude for me. I have been unbelievably fortunate through this period. I was able to continue living in Newark in a very comfortable apartment with my best friends where we have internet capable of supporting six computers all day. I have also remained healthy, and have been able to make the best of quarantine by being surrounded by wonderful friends.

My roommates and I have had countless movie nights, themed dinners, celebrated holidays, gone for social distancing picnics, take-out nights, drives blasting music, and we have even opened a home salon where several of us have had our hair cut or dyed (don’t worry, no bangs!). We have commiserated, but also shared our joy and gratitude for this time together.

Looking back on my time at UD, I have only endless gratitude. I owe so many thanks to the professors who have pushed and encouraged me, to the Honors program for being a support system and for providing countless opportunities, to the McNair Scholars program for facilitating my research and my path to graduate school, to the Writing Center for providing such a lovely work environment, and to all my fellow classmates, friends, and students who have changed and inspired me.

When I applied to UD and the Honors program, I wrote an essay on optimism. I wrote that I am optimistic because the beauty of humanity is that we are all constantly inspired and moved by each other. That people always change each other, sometimes for the better and sometimes not, and how wonderful that can be. While I cringe looking back on that essay, I feel the sentiment now more than ever. We may not be able to physically be together on campus for a graduation, but we will carry each other — friends, classmates, faculty, and staff alike — and UD with us for the rest of our lives. I would like to think as much as being a UD student has changed all of us, that we have also affected change to UD during our time by questioning the systems in place, furthering research, writing, performing, and more.

I think often on a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young. He writes, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”” And perhaps these last four years weren’t just “nice” but instead challenging, frustrating, difficult, joyous, and wonderful. We have been stressed and sleep-deprived, but also (hopefully) changed for the better, and if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

A Healthy Mindset during Social Distancing by Lorraine Capenos

I’m sure no one planned to experience a global pandemic during their college experience, and I’m no exception. Especially since it’s my last semester here at UD, social distancing has really thrown a wrench in my senior plans, and sometimes maintaining a positive and healthy mindset can be challenging. It can be easy to sink into disheartening thoughts about the state of the world and the unfortunate fact that I’m going to miss out on some experiences I was really looking forward to. When these thoughts and feelings come up, I take my time to feel them out and process them, understanding that my emotions and experiences are valid. That being said, I try not to dwell on them and remember to keep things in perspective. I choose to practice gratitude, taking time to appreciate the blessings I have in my life, and acknowledging that this is difficult for everyone but that I am safe and healthy, which is a privilege in itself. I believe it is important to find a balance, accepting and processing your feelings, while still maintaining perspective and gratitude.

I have also chosen to practice patience and forgiveness with myself, when I am low-energy or when I am not as optimistic or productive as I want to be. This is an unprecedented time period that most of us weren’t prepared for in the slightest. It is difficult to adjust your life on that large of a scale. Human beings are social creatures, so it is normal to feel a little blue when you can’t socialize with your friends in person for months. Add to that the monotony of quarantine and losing out on senior activities, and it’s understandable that I have had little motivation lately. So, I am being patient and flexible with myself, since being harsh on myself would likely get me nowhere and just make me feel worse. Instead, I am taking things slowly and allowing myself the time I need to process things, even when I am not being “productive” according to certain standards. Read More

“Language Learning from Home” by Chris Hope

Because of quarantine, many of us have more time at home to do things. It’s up to you how you spend your time, and whatever you choose to do should be what you want, whether it be getting ahead in work, picking up a hobby, or just relaxing. Languages are a big interest of mine (my majors are Linguistics and Three Languages, after all), and keeping up with language classes can be difficult when not in a classroom environment. I’m in the Honors section of my Italian class this semester, a class which has a large focus on conversation. Both my Italian and German classes thankfully have weekly Zoom meetings, but not everyone has that guarantee. There are all kinds of resources online for learning a language, and each resource offers its own pros and cons.

Duolingo is one popular app and website for language learning, offering over 35 courses in languages of all different varieties. Every language major under UD’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (DLLC) is offered on the site save for Ancient Greek, though one can always branch out if they want to, including with constructed languages such as Esperanto and Klingon. Duolingo is good for first getting into a language; however, it starts to falter once more complicated grammar concepts get thrown into the mix. Alongside that, the quality of courses differs by language, with some languages being constantly updated and others not being touched for years.

Read More

“Quarantine Cooking: Healthy Meals to Keep You Focused on Work” by John Salsini-Tobias

The change from eating dining hall food to actually having to cook at home certainly isn’t the worst aspect of online learning, but cooking nevertheless can take up valuable work time. Without endless options while at home, many students (including myself) will find themselves snacking throughout the day. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips or a granola bar but this option is rarely healthier than nutritious balanced meals. Let’s examine a possible day of eating in easy-to-prepare meals that any student could throw together while listening to a recorded lecture or practicing a Quizlet. 

The first meal of the day obviously is breakfast, and nowadays it’s an easy one to skip if you can wake up and start class just by grabbing your laptop. Staying in a routine will be healthy and this means actually getting out of bed (looking awake and out of bed reflects well in class too). One delectable and popular breakfast dish is avocado toast. Popularized by millennials, this can be spiced up in many different ways to add some flavor and balance to your diet. Personally, I prepare mine with some sea salt and a hard boiled egg on top of mashed avocado on whole-grain toast. Here are the steps to make a new morning preference:

  1. Peel and pit avocados
  2. Put about ½ of an avocado on each slice of bread
  3. Dice the avocado and mash into bread with fork
  4. Add any toppings such as sliced egg, salt, pepper, cheese, tomato, or anything you like!
  5. Toast the bread and allow to cool before eating.

Around midday you’ll probably get hungry again, so now it’s time for lunch. A college favorite that I often find myself making is a classic: ramen. It’s fine to eat a plain bowl with the included seasoning, but you may find yourself wanting a more filling experience in the absence of restaurants like Ramen Kumamoto. I often add a soft boiled egg to my ramen. For this, I recommend preparing the noodles normally and then in a separate pot boiling the egg. Of course, adding other toppings such as scallions, pork, tofu, bean sprouts, or cabbage to the noodle broth can be done to add flavor. Again, this is an easy way to make a tasty meal out of a simple food.

  1. Boil noodles in a pot of water
  2. Add flavor, seasonings, or toppings that need to be cooked to pot
    1. For a soft boiled egg, prepare 1 inch of water in separate pot
    2. Once water is boiling, add egg directly from fridge and leave for 4 ½ min
    3. Remove egg and immediately cool with cold water, then peel and enjoy!
  3. Add noodles to a bowl and add any fresh toppings desired

A powerful way to finish work hours and prepare you for an evening of relaxing (or more work!) is this pasta dish. Once again simple to prepare, this lemon pasta tastes amazing and gives you some carbs to keep up your energy. Just add a salad and a desert!

  1. Bring a quart of water to a boil
  2. Prepare pan of spaghetti, tomatoes, lemon zest, olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt
  3. Add boiling water to pan, cover, and heat until it reboils
  4. Remove the lid to simmer for 6 minutes while stirring
    1. You can add kale or spinach for more flavor and to soak up the juices
  5. Serve with seasonings and some parmesan!

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