Author: hayleyw (page 2 of 9)

“Tips for Top-Notch Writing” by Nadya Ellerhorst

I am not good at many things. However, I am okay at a handful of things.

I can reach books off of high shelves. I can recommend a movie for you to watch based on your preferred genre. Set a plate of food in front of me, and *poof*—I can make it disappear before your very eyes.

If there’s one thing I’m particularly okay at, it’s writing. Sometimes I like to believe otherwise, but if the opposite were true, I think Hayley and Abhigna would have kindly kicked me off 186 South College by now.

Disclaimer: I am not an English major or a Writing Fellow, and I do not, nor do I pretend to, know all the in’s and out’s of the complex galaxy that is the English language. However, over the years, I’ve made enough vocabulary, grammar, and spelling errors to provide me with some insight that I hope can assist you. With a little practice, patience, and dedication, anyone can become a skilled writer.

Hence, I am pleased to present some tips and tricks for reaching your full writing potential, because if your professors, Purdue OWL, or pure reason can’t sway you, maybe this freshman can.

1. Proofread your paper before asking others to read it 

I cannot — let me pause here to let that sink in — stand it when I’m asked to proofread something littered with tiny mistakes. You may not think they’re a big deal. After all, what are your professors who have spent years getting graduate degrees for other than correcting your goofy spelling errors (the red squiggly lines are not just your imagination, friends) and reminding you for the umpteenth time that “The period goes inside the quotation marks.”

In case you’ve forgotten, a gentle reminder that you’re human. All of us are prone to making an occasional error in our work, and it takes a while to get the hang of the myriad of spelling and grammar rules out there. You can’t spell revision without vision, so look over your work at least once after writing it.

2. Write something you enjoy reading

If you don’t like how it sounds, chances are we won’t like it either. If you start zoning out while reading, either you need to fine-tune your writing to make it more engaging, or that sentence is too long. It’s really just a matter of trusting your gut as to what sounds pleasing to that little voice in your head that vocalizes what you’re reading.

3. Check citations

Yes, not everyone is going to read them, and yes, they are a pain in the neck to compile. However, sloppy, ill-formatted citations, both on a Works Cited page and in the text itself, are an eyesore, especially if you get a citation nut like me looking over your work.

There are plenty of digital resources out there to help you figure out what to cite and how to cite it. Remember your ancestors who did not have Purdue OWL!

4. Become good friends with a thesaurus

There exists a multitude of words beyond “good,” “great,” and “interesting.” Do these words get the job done? Sure. Is reading “excellent” 15 times in the span of the same paragraph enjoyable? No.

You don’t need an actual thesaurus. Simply Googling synonyms for a given word will yield a vast array of websites and suggestions for different terms to spice up your work. Continue reading

“Language Learning and Overcoming Burnout” by Clara Kinken

Like most college students with schedules dominated by numerous courses and weekly meetings, I’m not immune to occasional bouts of burnout. In fact, after taking two winter session courses in January, academic fatigue arrived just in time for the beginning of my spring semester classes. 

Dealing with academic burnout is difficult for a number of reasons, but there are some tricks from language learning that, in my experience, help train your brain to overcome the challenge and persevere. 

Anyone who voluntarily studies foreign languages can tell you that it’s not all smooth sailing through new vocabulary and advancing grammar constructions. There’s an added motivation factor that comes with practicing your target language outside of class, in addition to your homework assignments, and over lengthy school breaks. 

A lack of motivation to practice my languages was never a problem for me when the excitement of first learning was fresh or when I was in immersive environments where the language itself was inescapable. However, when the honeymoon phase is over and studying, reviewing, and memorization become daily requirements, that continuous linguistic curiosity starts to diminish. 

I often experience this during school breaks when lacking the structure my classes provide each semester starts to take a toll on my ability to schedule a balance between three different languages each day. I’ll start with blocking off specific times for each, and then over the course of a few weeks, it is a rarity if I get to all of them in a day.  Continue reading

“Derailing the Burnout Express” by Lauren Rasmussen

As a freshman here at UD, I still remember what it was like to tour campus for the first time and fall in love with the tree-lined brick pathways enclosing the Green. In fact, I loved it so much that I came back for a second tour—and then a third, self-guided walk around campus—and the students I encountered on these three separate occasions all gave similar praise regarding the community I would soon become a part of. However, there was another commonality between each of these visits: every student I talked to, it seemed, had something to say about the train.

Whether it was a warning to leave earlier than I thought I needed to for class lest I get stuck at the tracks or a general statement about the inconvenience of having to wait for it to pass by, my tour guides never failed to mention something about that doggone train. Even during the first week of my fall semester, both RAs I toured campus with—because yes, I was that freshman who went on multiple tours during move-in—made some snide remark as we passed over the tracks. Despite not yet having seen the infamous train for myself, I loathed it already. I dreaded our inevitable first meeting and I scowled at the thought of having some big, ugly mass of rusted steel standing between me and a good meal on Main Street. It took a few weeks, but I did eventually encounter the legendary beast—and the experience was not at all how I imagined it.

As I stood there, mere feet away from the tracks as the thing hurtled past at whatever insane speed a freight train usually travels, I remember all of my previously held angst fading away into pure, unadulterated awe. I felt my eyes widen and my heartbeat quicken, as is typical when you’re standing next to something you know could absolutely destroy you in an instant and keep going as if nothing ever happened, that is, should you foolishly ignore the signage and get too close. And with the ground shaking beneath my feet and the shrill screeching of metal-on-metal ringing in my ears, all I could seem to think in that moment was: Wow, this is epic.

Continue reading

“Not Letting the Days Go By” by Chris Hope

It’s the spring semester, and whether you’re on campus or not, the onset of classes brings a sort of schedule to the week and some variety as compared to winter or even the last semester. I know that I’ve felt some more variety for the first time in almost a year, since this is my first time being extensively back on campus since last March, when I had to move out of Redding! Still, with many classes relegated to your room and the overall year of quarantine that we have gone through and continue to go through, it can feel like we’ve been repeating the same week over and over or are beginning to go into that cycle. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to add some variety to life that can also help you keep tabs on the days.

I was inspired to write this article for two reasons, the first of which being an event that was held in my Residence Hall, Independence, on the first day of classes. We were able to go down to the lounge that night and, while maintaining social distancing, grab a small pot, fill it with dirt, and plant some seeds in it. This is my first time taking care of a plant (if you don’t count science classes in middle and high school), and watching Pharbara’s progressive growth has been great! And yes, my plant’s name is an extended reference to Phoebe Bridgers. The first week there was little growth, but since then four sprouts have popped up and continue to rise. Watching as it grows and making sure I’m watering it as its soil becomes dry has been a nice little daily activity that keeps things fresh and a little bit exciting. Continue reading

My Virtual International Internship by Lauren Mottel

By the end of last fall semester, I knew I needed a serious recharge. It started fairly well and carried on as well as semesters can go, but after retrospect (which most realizations are apt to stem from), I had a delayed realization as to why that post-finals, drained feeling was hanging a bit heavier over my shoulders. 

After the collective last-minute struggle of abruptly adapting and transitioning to virtual learning last spring, as well as my choice to take a class over the summer, I realized that this past fall was the first fully virtual semester, stacked credits and all. Sure, it may have been a not-so-sharp realization, but knowledge is power, and this definitely had an impact on me. Last fall was neither the hybrid mix of the spring nor a single class over June. It was a set of core courses, heavy with foundational curriculum, and for some of them, the additional rigorous standards and expectations of my Honors sections—all of which were taken while I wrapped myself in a blanket at my desk at home. 

So yes, suffice it to say that the build-up of Zoom fatigue from last fall more than definitely garnered some much needed R&R and winter break was a welcome reprieve. However, I knew I shouldn’t stay idle for too long, lest I mentally regress and sink into the Lauren-shaped mold in my couch for the next four weeks. Despite the extremely valid need for rest, I knew I wanted to be productive over winter session, especially considering I didn’t do very much during this time the previous year. (Hindsight at its finest once again.)

Therefore, this past January I was fortunate enough to participate in a virtual international engineering internship, which not only kept me from withdrawing into a weighted blanket-induced hibernation but more significantly helped me gain great work experience in a really unique way. I was placed in a group with other UD engineers and paired off with the medical device company Renerve Ltd. based in Melbourne, Australia. Our task was to design and formulate a surgical implant product that met a desired function and applications and to provide a full-scale proposal for the product rationale, research and development, regulatory pathways, manufacturing, and marketing strategies—all within four weeks.  Continue reading

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