186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Author: schiff (page 1 of 8)

My Greatest Lesson: Navigating Ambiguity by Carlos Benito

College presents us with the greatest density of resources that we will ever know. Experts in any field reside here and the university is brimming with advisors and support staff whose sole purpose is to help us succeed. There lies the greatest enigma that no one can help answer, what is success? How do we define it now and how will our definition change in a time where every dawn brings a new disaster? No one can answer that for you, but I believe everyone faces at least one common obstacle on their quest for success – ambiguity.

Ambiguity is that fog of uncertainty that clouds the path to success. If any of us hope to find success, we must learn to chart our way through this fog. As noble as it may seem to storm in, suffer then finally succeed, there is an easier way. Ambiguity, despite its inherent nature, is always composed of the same few components. If you can anticipate these components and come ready with your response you will find success with less strife.

Component 1: Chaos

The universe is defined by entropy, and our lives within it are no different. We know our lives are most commonly filled with a specific flavor of chaos: disorganization. If we know we will encounter disorganization we must preemptively prepare a response. For us at UD, that response comes in the form or advisement. Everyone at UD has unique and useful knowledge, from a student’s review of a professor to an advisor’s wisdom in course selection, no one’s experiences can be disregarded as “worthless”.  Talk to students who have taken the course you wish to take and ask them what they thought of the professor. If you understand how the professor runs his/her class you can format your actions accordingly.

Component 2: Human Error

We all know people are not perfect but few actually take that into consideration before taking action. When a class is composed of a professors, TAs, preceptors, lab coordinators, and other staff, you can anticipate having at least some errors or inconsistencies due to miscommunication. If you know that will happen, prepare for it. I combat this by meeting with each staff member separately to understand what they value academically and emotionally as well as how they communicate with the other members of the staff. If I know how one person grades or one person is consistently out of step I can anticipate problems and clean up issues before they arise. This does not make any specific person’s knowledge, time, or opinion any less valuable. All it means is that it will take extra effort on your part to understand their thoughts and more often than not you will benefit from that extra effort.

Component 3: Failure

This is by far the hardest component of ambiguity to come to terms with. The failure we face can be caused by many factors, but I choose to look at failure on my terms. It can be easy to say failure came from human error or disorganization on the part of others but in the end it doesn’t affect them nearly as much as it affects you. With that in mind, you have to look at every failure as a consequence of your actions. It doesn’t matter whether it was or not, but you only have control over your emotions and your actions so anger towards anyone else is not useful. Sometimes failure is truly a consequence of your actions. When that times comes – and it will – you have to be ready. That preparation comes in the form of building a reputation of dedication, hard work, and responsibility. If everyone understand the values you stand for, even in your darkest moments they will still stand behind you. Then it relies on you to modify your plan to better prepare for a similar scenario in the future.

It is my belief that every person’s success is determined by their actions. With that in mind, you must make it your duty to make use of your support and sail forth towards ambiguity and towards your idea of of success. Safe sailing my friends.

Taking Fun Classes by Lorraine Capenos

Many people think that when it comes to classes, they’re all boring and slow and require long hours of work. And while it is true that some classes out there are like that, there are so many that are fun and can be taken regardless of your major or schedule. Fun classes can fit into any schedule or program if you know what to look for and how to fit it into your schedule.

My first tip is to major in something that you’re interested in. This is going to help exponentially with your class enjoyment. If you are in a major that you don’t care about and you’re just doing it for money or because it’s what someone told you to do, you won’t enjoy most of your classes. But when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it will come more naturally and be more enjoyable for you. My major is environmental studies and I take many classes that I find fascinating. I’m currently taking MAST200 which is a class on the oceans, and I love it and find it super interesting because it’s what I am passionate about.

My next tip is to look at what breadth requirements or elective credits you need, and find fun ways to fit those in. For instance, I fulfilled one of my Group B requirements with a history class on ancient Greek and Roman society instead of a class I would find boring. One of my group A requirements is being filled with an English class about Harry Potter, and everyone in that class loves it. You can find room in your schedule to fit in fun classes, you just might have to look a little harder. Using the UD course search can really help with this if you use its features to narrow down what you’re looking for and what requirements you need to fill. You can even narrow down what days and times you need a class to fill.

Another tip is to be prompt about registration. Most people know how competitive registration can be and understand the rush to try to enroll in a certain class before the spots all fill up. Fun classes like mythology and Harry Potter will fill up fast because everyone wants a spot. If your registration appointment is at 8 am, be ready to register at 7:45, with your computer on, charged, and logged in to register, and with a list already prepared of what classes you want to get into, and some alternatives in case those don’t work out. It’s very important to have alternatives, because you don’t want to get stuck in a class you won’t like because you took too much time to figure out your schedule while you could have already been registering for classes.

My final recommendation is to ask your friends about classes they have taken. People always seem shocked to find out that I took a class about Greek mythology and got honors credit for it, because it was an absolute dream of a class and it fulfilled honors credits and a breadth requirement for me. Definitely ask your friends or classmates about which classes and professors were their favorites, or at least spend some time looking at the course listings for the upcoming semester and see if you can find anything interesting.

A Study Guide for the Midterm Elections by Sarah Blum

I know the midterm in your next class seems really important to you right now, and it is. It’s gotten to the point of the semester when college students everywhere are taking advantage of the library and all of the caffeine that coffee can offer in preparation for their next midterm exam. The problem is, a lot of those same college students ignore an even bigger midterm that’s coming up – the midterm elections. If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least 18, and you’re hopefully registered to vote. It is important you realize that the right to vote is not something you should exercise only every 4 years.

Midterm elections are exactly what they sound like: they are elections that happen in the middle of a presidential term. A lot of people assume that if they aren’t going to be voting for the president, then their vote doesn’t matter, but they could not be more wrong. During these elections, you can vote for who you want to fill ⅓ of the seats in the U.S. senate and 435 of the seats that make up the U.S. House of Representatives. The people you vote for essentially control congress, and congress essentially controls the direction of the country. And that’s not all! There are also many local elections you may be eligible to vote in depending on which state you are registered in. For example, this year, 36 states are holding elections for governor. Local policy change dictated by these elections can have a huge effect on your day-to-day life – especially for students, when topics such as “tuition-free college” are being discussed.

This year seems like a really promising one for young people to make a change with their votes. The problem is, especially in the midterms, young people don’t actually follow through. Just because you don’t “follow” politics does not mean that politics don’t follow you. I urge you to figure out where and when you can vote as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to be within your district on election day, you can quickly search online to see where your voting location is. If not, you are able to vote through an absentee ballot, but you’re on a bit of a time crunch. In most states, you can still apply for an absentee ballot up to a week before the elections, but you should check online to make sure. Vote.org is particularly useful website for all information regarding how and where to vote in your state/county.

It is quite possible that this message got to you a bit late. I know many students who did not bother to order a ballot because they didn’t have enough information, or they simply felt like their vote wouldn’t matter anyway. In terms of being unaware, the best thing you can do is educate yourself for the next time you are able to vote. After Election Day, there may be certain special elections within your individual state or local government in which you can vote. Websites like TurboVote.org will tell you fairly quickly all of the upcoming elections you are eligible to vote in- they’ll even send you text reminders. As for your vote being unimportant, the short answer is that it’s not. Young people especially seem to believe that their votes won’t change anything, but it is this frame of mind that keeps everything at a standstill. The only time when your vote doesn’t count is when you don’t cast it.  

The University Experience: A Test of Individuality by Carlos Benito

From Joe Biden to Tom Carper to Chris Christie, the University of Delaware is known as the nurturing ground for successful individuals. It is this drive toward success that brings us together to receive an education filled with diversity of thought, interest, culture, and opportunity. In a campus so densely packed with new things it is easy to forget what brought all these people together: you. Your academics, goals, drive, and interests brought you here to pursue your passions and your experience is UD’s most valuable resource. It is your passion that spreads and intertwines with others to create new, unique knowledge. While this blend of passions is UD’s defining characteristic, you must remember that it isn’t yours.

Our forefathers fought to create a country of individuals, not generic citizens. In realizing the unique qualities of every person, they created a country where every individual could embrace themselves and prosper. We cannot forget their sentiment, especially now. As college students we are awash in new ideas and openly embrace many of them, often becoming a product of our environment. We must not forget our defining factors in this flood of contemporary thought. It is our individual actions that brought us here, no one else’s. Now, when we are inundated with the liberating feeling that comes with a major life change, we must keep our heads above water. While each of us contributes to UD’s environment, we are all masters of ourselves and must act accordingly. It would be a shame if you spent four years “finding yourself” to be left more confused than when you started. We are all in a period of rapid change and we must guide that change or risk straying further and further from our goals.

In addition to managing our own lives, we must work around others that attempt the same. UD cherishes our sense of community, but this begs the question, where does an individual fall within a community? Our nation has grappled with this question from the day of its conception. Some claim the individual must be active within the community and others say the community exists on a different plane. Regardless of your answer, we all exist nestled between shining seas. We all share the privileges and burdens that come with a lifestyle tailored differently to every American. In the fine print of our citizenship, is outlined our most important and most overlooked privilege: our right to the ballot box.

We are nearly a month away from midterm elections that may plot our nation’s course for years to come – an election deep within one of the most politically polarizing periods in our history. If we ever want to rise out of the rift that divides us, we have to pull ourselves out. It’s fitting that the fate of a nation of individuals depends on the actions of every individual. It is our duty as Americans, UD students, and individuals to cast a vote on November 6th. University of Delaware’s noteworthy individuals understand their privileges and responsibilities, we must do the same.


Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Carly Patent

It’s that point in the semester when the going gets rough. You have a professor who thinks that her class is the only one you’re taking. You have to go see a mandatory play for your theater class and must spend your Saturday night doing so. You have approximately fifty-three pages of reading – complete with an after-reading quiz, of course! And finally, the cherry on top, you have a group project due next week and seem to be the only person in the group who not only knows anything going on in the class, but also the only person who knows how to email/text/respond to GroupMe. So, what do you do to cope with all of this built-up stress? You go grab a burrito loaded with toppings on Main Street, wrap yourself into a burrito in bed, and watch the same episode of The Office that you’ve watched on repeat for the past week.

Wrong! You know what you should actually do to deal with this pent-up stress? Put the burrito down, unwrap yourself, and say goodbye to Netflix. Put on a pair of sneakers, and get moving! Throughout my college experience, I’ve learned that the best way to not only deal with stress but also feel my best is to be active. Luckily, here at the University of Delaware, we have tons of ways to do so, and I’m here to share my insider tips and tricks for how I never miss my workout (shoutout Chance the Rapper for those wonderful lyrics).

Wake up Early

My first tip is something that I know many people will instantly hate, but just hear me out. I’m not saying to wake up everyday at 5am, run 10 miles, and then go sit through hours of classes and homework. I’m saying that if your schedule permits it, try waking up before the sun rises and engaging in some form of physical activity at least once a week. It’s amazing how accomplished you’ll feel knowing that you not only got your daily workout out of the way but that you now have the rest of the day to use as you wish. You might find that you actually enjoy waking up early and will make that a part of your daily routine. Personally, I love going to the gym when it’s dark out and leaving when the sun is just rising; it makes me feel like I already have a head start to my day. An added bonus is that the gym is basically empty in the early hours of the morning, giving free reign to any machine you could possibly want. If motivation is an issue, try laying out your gym clothes the night before, setting only one alarm which will automatically force you to get up, or planning your workout routine ahead of time so that you have a goal in mind. As I’ve found, waking up early to work out has given me the jolt of energy that I need to carry me through my busy days.  

Try New Things

I first came to college relying mostly on three different activities to keep me fit: playing tennis, running, and bike-riding around my neighborhood. With a whole gym at my fingertips, however, I soon learned that there were so many more options from which I could take advantage. Not only does the Lil Bob have every machine and device imaginable – including a rock wall – but the tons of group fitness classes are fun and exciting. While I still play tennis for the Club Tennis team and make that a regular part of my exercise routine, I’ve branched out and have tried things that I never had before. Last year, I took my first BODYPUMP class, having a break in my schedule that coincided perfectly with the class time. At first, I had no clue what I was doing, but having continued doing BODYPUMP for a year, I can not only recognize which tracks coincide with certain launches but have also been able to improve my form and increase my weights. I’ve also fallen in love with Cycling, Barre, and Butts n’ Guts, classes that I had never done before coming to college. And, finally, I just recently started doing Pilates (shout out to Mini who keeps me coming back for more each week!). I signed up for Pilates on the fly one day and went to the class not having any expectations. But, having gone numerous times this semester, I now cannot see my week without it. I look forward to my Friday mornings when I can de-stress and get a good workout in – the perfect start to my weekend. I really enjoy group fitness classes because I commit to being there for a set amount of time and cannot just decide to cut my workout short. What this hopefully shows is that being active can take many shapes and forms. Try new things, and find what moves you, literally!

Mix up your Workout

Going along with trying new things is the idea that mixing up what you do can give you an even better workout. Running on the treadmill everyday or doing the same ab routine can get boring, causing a quick loss in motivation. In addition, your muscles can get accustomed to doing the same workouts and will, in turn, remain the same, not producing great results. From my own experience, I’ve found that I feel best when I’m doing a variety of different activities, whether it’s cardio, weight-training, or balance and flexibility exercises. On an average week, I try to include at least one day of each and then fill in my other workouts with whatever I’m feeling for that day. In addition to mixing up your actual workout, change up the intensity of your workouts, as well. If I push myself really hard one day, I will likely do a less-strenuous workout the next day. By constantly varying your workouts, you’ll not only never feel like Phil in Groundhog Day, but you’ll also maximize your results.

Involve Friends

This one is simple: get yourself a workout partner! While some people prefer to workout alone and do their own thing (which I totally get), having a friend right alongside you can actually be a great motivator. Seeing your friends push themselves can make you push yourself to the same degree. There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to get the juices flowing. And, even better, there are so many different ways that you can incorporate partner moves into your workout whether that means spotting each other, having a catch with a medicine ball, or doing plank hand slaps. Additionally, making plans to go to the gym with someone holds you accountable; skipping out on the workout affects both you and your friend as well. Bringing a buddy to the gym is a surefire way to work hard and have fun while doing so.

Make it Exciting

My last tip is to make working out exciting. Sure, we all have those lazy days when we just want to lounge around and only get up off the sofa to refill a bowl of popcorn. But, if your workout is entertaining and lively, then you’re more likely to actually want to do it. For me, the biggest thing that can make or break my workout is music. If I have a killer playlist – filled with Kanye, Chance, and Post – then I can zone out and just focus on the music, as opposed to the fact that I’m dripping sweat and most likely look like a sunburnt tomato. If you’re planning on doing a more stationary workout such as running on the treadmill, using the elliptical, or riding on a bike, then another way to make those workouts less monotonous is to watch something, whether it be your favorite TV show or a movie. Getting engrossed in what you’re watching is a guaranteed way to keep your eyes off of the clock. I sometimes even save watching my favorite TV shows for when I go to the gym so that I have something to look forward to. Encompassing the entire workout experience is something that oftentimes gets overlooked: your outfit. I have always gone by the motto that it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I look good doing it. While this is not always the case, feeling good in what you wear is definitely a way to increase your confidence. A new tank top or pair of leggings can be just the push you need to get going. And, finally, my last tip for making workouts exciting is to think outside of the box. Not every workout needs to be done in the gym. Throw a football, go for a hike, run up and down the stairs until you feel like your lungs might fall out. This past weekend, my roommates and I spent an hour jumping on our neighbors’ trampoline and playing “popcorn.” If that doesn’t scream college, I don’t know what does!

Being active is a great way to break up your everyday routine. Classes are only going to get harder, and having something to depend on to de-stress is critical. Working out can clear your mind and provide you the energy to deal with anything that this semester has to offer. That being said, as with everything, never push yourself too hard. If you’re not feeling it one day, that’s okay, and you should never feel guilty for not working out. Listen to your body and what makes you feel good. Going off of that, feeling good is not just about doing push-ups on a regular basis or increasing how much you can lift. There are so many other factors to focus on from balancing your social life with your academics, finding clubs and organizations that really speak to you, maintaining relationships with family and friends, and eating foods that will fuel you to keep this all going (shameless plug to my next blog post on healthy eating tips and tricks!). Without a doubt, you’ll be feeling harder, better, faster, stronger in no time!

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