186 South College

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

Author: schiff (page 1 of 9)

Climbing to New Heights by Jenna Newman

Growing up I was always involved in a wide variety of extracurricular sports, so the transition to college while also not being an athlete for the first time in my life was definitely a strange one. I tried to supplement this in a variety of different ways. Freshman year was full of trying a variety of intramural sports every season. Sophomore year I began to play tennis regularly with one of my friends and that spring I trained for my first marathon. It was exciting to have a goal to work towards, but there was still something missing. I wasn’t excited or passionate about sports the way I was doing crew in high school or playing middle school basketball.

Then, this past winter session, something changed. I got a gift card to a local rock climbing gym. Rock climbing was always something that fascinated me. For one, it was pretty much a giant jungle gym made for adults, while also being an insanely good workout. Beyond that, I had many fond memories of rock climbing at the local YMCA when I was kid. I also loved being outdoors and the idea that gym climbing could prepare me for new outdoor adventures was a major draw.

Although I was incredibly hesitant to set foot into the gym for the first time, from the moment I did I was hooked. When my two week trial expired, I got a membership and began going 3-4 times per week. All I talked about was rock climbing, I dragged friends and family to the gym with me, and my Instagram feed became full of bouldering, top roping photos, and hashtags. I had finally found a new sport that I was passionate about and excited to continue.

When it was time to head back to UD, I was nervous that my new dedication would not translate when I was back in the hustle and bustle of all things junior year. However, UD has allowed me to continue to pursue this new sport and challenge myself mentally and physically. The rock gym in the Lil’ Bob has a variety of different routes and is open six nights a week. Beyond the confines of the UD campus, less than 10 miles away is the DE Rock Gym, which offers a ton more routes and expands to lead climbing and top roping.

I have not only found a new sport and way to stay in shape with rock climbing, but it has also offered me a new community and a way to stay grounded mentally. Going to the rock gym has become something that allows me to take a mental break while challenging myself to climb to new heights (literally). The community is so open and encouraging. I’ve often found myself engaged in conversations with fellow climbers of all different abilities, all of us trying to help each other to accomplish our goals in a non-judgemental environment.

I’ll leave you with this quote by an unknown, but insightful, author: “You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”

Shifting My Focus by Lorraine Capenos

Being in college can feel really overwhelming, especially if you’re really involved and tend to take on more responsibilities than you probably should. It can feel like a crazy balancing act just to get through the day. Personally, I usually end the day tired and overwhelmed by how much I need to get done the next day. It is also easy to feel lost and unsure about how to move forward in your life.

I recently decided to shift my focus and really home in on my academic and career goals. I began to think seriously about what I need to do in order to graduate on time and what I could do to boost my resume so that when the time comes, graduate school and a career will not seem so unattainable.

I already put in the work in my classes to get good grades, but it is important to me to maintain a high GPA and do well in my classes, so that goal was reaffirmed. I also became a DENIN ambassador to get experience in environmental event planning and advocacy, which will be great experience for me as an environmental studies major. The biggest change I made was accepting a research position for the spring and summer, in which I will be working with a professor to analyze climatic effects on agriculture, and which will not only be great experience but also will fulfill my field experience requirement, which I need in order to graduate.

Admittedly, I feel a bit out of my element and overwhelmed by this position and juggling it with all the other things in my schedule. But I cannot deny that as soon as a shifted my focus to career and academics and set my intentions to find a research internship position, the opportunity presented itself to me perfectly. I also believe that as long as I put in the work, this position will benefit me in so many ways and I am grateful for the opportunity to work on such important and advanced research. It is important for me to get out of my comfort zone and take new opportunities as they come my way, and I also believe that focusing on my career will be more beneficial for me in the long-run than focusing on less consequential aspects of my life.

Finding a balance where I can still have a social life and be involved in Greek life and clubs, but also put a lot of attention into my academic work and start a research position is difficult. There are days when I feel incredibly overwhelmed and stressed. But ultimately it will be worthwhile, and this shift of focus will help me achieve my ambitions. I decided I did not want to waste time anymore and that, while I made it a priority to still take care of myself, I did not want to content myself with just focusing on college without thinking of the future. My future is fast-approaching, and I plan on being ready for every twist and turn.

Minding your Mind by Sarah Blum

I cannot remember a time when starting a new year of school or a new semester did not stress me out. There is actually a picture of me on my first day of kindergarten SOBBING because I was so scared to go to class. I would love to go back and tell that kindergarten me that she had it good, but I digress. School has always been synonymous with stress for me. I was determined to challenge that idea before spring semester started, and now that we’re a few weeks in, I have to say – things feel different. I don’t look at my calendar and see a bunch of daunting due dates staring back at me or toss and turn all night thinking about how much work I have to do the next day. I wish I could tell you that I flipped a switch and suddenly I wasn’t stressed, but unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. There were no switches or magic spells, and I don’t think there will ever be a time when I can say I’m not stressed at all. But, I have learned that stress can be managed by being a little more mindful.

I have never been one for the idea of meditating. I’ve never been able to turn my mind off. Sitting in a quiet, dark room and concentrating on my breathing for a half hour sounds traumatic to me. How can anyone think about breathing for that long? But, I was talking to a friend about my outrageous stress levels last semester and she suggested mindfulness meditation. I was about to laugh, because like I said, meditation just didn’t seem like the move for me. But this friend always seemed so calm and collected, so I figured I should have whatever she was having. When I actually took the time to listen to what mindfulness really was, I found that it was pretty simple – and it made sense.

Mindfulness is pretty meta. I am sure there are more professional definitions out there, but to me, it’s really just taking a moment to be more aware of yourself and your position in the world. It’s almost like another sense or a state of mind that, once you’ve practiced, you can tap into whenever you need to. The reason that it’s so great for stress is that it allows you to ground yourself in the present. You know that feeling when you have a research paper and 3 exams and 4 meetings all within the span of a week? Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from that and not get overwhelmed. It’s like a little voice that says, “Sure, you have a lot to do, but you can handle it.” Not everyone’s stress is the same of course, but mine mostly manifests itself in worrying about the future instead of thinking rationally. My mind will spin for hours, coming up with more things to be anxious about. Mindfulness brings me back to reality just long enough for my brain to process everything and come up with a realistic plan of action instead of worrying relentlessly for hours.

The really great thing about meditation and mindfulness, as I’ve learned, is that as long as it works for you, there’s really no way you can do it wrong. I have tried to meditate before, but I would get so hung up on being “good” at it that it never worked for me. The whole idea behind mindfulness is that it can be as simple as taking a deep breath, or closing your eyes, or counting to 10 in a moment of cognitive overload, as long as it brings you back down to earth. That being said, when I was just starting out, I found that guided meditations were really helpful. You can find these anywhere, from YouTube to meditation apps, my favorite is called “Calm.” I think the best way for anyone to start would be to take a few minutes before bed, turn on a guided meditation, and try to turn your brain off for a few minutes. Guided meditations like these are great for me because they don’t require any thinking and they force me to focus on something other than my own thoughts. Instead, I can focus on the guiding voice which is usually enough to bring my brain back to its scheduled programming. Usually, it’s just a matter of focusing on your breath and trying to relax your muscles (you’d be surprised how tense your muscles can be.)

You might be reading this and be thinking “no thanks,” and that’s fine. Meditation isn’t for everyone. However, I used to think it wasn’t for me, and now its something I use nearly everyday to some capacity. I think the biggest misconception people (and myself in the past) have about meditation is that it needs to be done in a certain way. In my opinion, whatever calms you and allows you to center yourself can be considered meditation. You don’t need a dark room with a bunch of candles and Gregorian monks chanting in the background. Just take a few moments to breathe and be present every once and in a while.

Hen’s Kitchen by Carly Patent

As college students, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing to help us get through long days, busy schedules, projects, assignments, tests, quizzes, homework, reading, meetings, relationships, and everything in between. And, no, sorry to say, but that one thing is not Netflix, puppies, or the Starbucks in Smith, instead, it’s food.

We never really pay much attention to the effect that food has on our overall happiness, but I’m here to say that there’s something quite magical about an ice cream cone rolled in rainbow sprinkles or a slice of ooey gooey pizza. Oftentimes, college students, myself included, take for granted how important it is to eat right – especially during those weeks when your professor decides to assign a fifty-page reading in the last five minutes of class, when your calendar looks like a game of tic tac toe, and when you can’t even remember what color the carpet in your room is. Focusing on the elements that you can control – such as how much sleep and exercise you get and what you put into your body – is a starting point.

Living on campus the past two years, I had the luxury of a meal plan. Whenever I was hungry, I could walk the fifteen or so feet to my nearest dining hall, head up to a station, grab a plate, sit down, and enjoy. I never had to think about meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation time, or washing dishes. Now, however, having moved into an apartment, I now must consider all of these things – on top of my schoolwork, commitments, and activities. Knowing that I am not alone in the boat of college students who came to college with experience making maybe one or two items – scrambled eggs and toast, anyone? I’m here to share what I have learned. And with that, let me present some tips and tricks to guide you when it comes to making healthy, satisfying meals that are not only easy on the wallet but will make you feel like Rachael Ray or Emeril…BAM!

 

Plan Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than going to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Anything and everything will be tempting, and anything and everything will make it into your cart and back home with you. The dinosaur chicken nuggets? A necessity. A jug of chocolate milk? Can’t live without it. A family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Ah, toss it in. If you write out a set list of exactly what you need for that week’s meals, you’re less likely to fall into the trap of a growling stomach. Before heading to the supermarket, look through your fridge and pantry to see what you have, what you need, and what you absolutely want. What really helps me, surprisingly, is having limited space to store my food. If I don’t have room for it, then I can’t buy it. Take a cue from Santa; make a list, and check it twice!

 

Make Healthy Choices

When living at home, it’s easy to eat healthy when your mom nags you to eat your vegetables! But, when you have the freedom to instead stock up on taquitos, waffles, and Easy Mac, getting your daily dose of greens might take the back burner unless you think wisely. First, read nutrition labels. I know that we were all taught how to do this in middle school health class and have most likely tried to forget about that time in our life – Juicy tracksuits, hair feathers, Axe, and Silly Bands. Knowing what to look for when shopping for ourselves, however, is important. Items that we consider “healthy” such as granola bars can actually be loaded with sugar. Taking the extra time to read the labels can help you prevent that Freshman – or Sophomore, Junior, and Senior – Fifteen. Second, sneak in your vegetables. We always hear of parents tricking their kids into eating mashed potatoes with cauliflower and zucchini in their muffins. So why not do the same? Throw a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie or add some veggies to your omelette. You can keep eating what you love, but with some simple switches, what you love will show the love in return!

 

Be Creative

While I consider myself to be a decent cook and an avid watcher of the Food Network, before coming to college, I had quite limited experience actually planning and making my meals. The first week or so, I resorted to making the same few dishes, and while they are still my favorites, as I got more comfortable cooking for myself, I began to branch out and try new things. There are literally millions of recipes out there to try so that you’re not stuck eating the same things every night. When I first made chicken – something that oddly enough freaks me out thanks to a not-so-pleasant experience with undercooked chicken – I felt like a true adult and rejoiced in my roommates’ praise for conquering such a task! I think it’s important to recognize that while the kitchen can be scary, coming from someone who has dealt with some minor burns and cuts, it can also be freeing. Trust yourself and your ability to try new things so that you can break free from the Ramen Noodles that are holding you back!

 

Treat Yourself

My final piece of advice for transitioning to the added responsibility of cooking for oneself is to value food for what it is: a story. Every time that we eat, we tell a story of where we are in life, who we are with, and what we value. We all have that one meal that is ingrained in our heads: a meal that we shared with someone we love, a meal that went terribly wrong, or a meal that we would pay millions of dollars to relive. Whether it is the taste of your mom’s caramel brownies or your favorite restaurant’s lobster macaroni and cheese, food has a transformative ability. It can help us connect with those around us. It can bring us back to a special moment. It can heighten our moods. The power of food should not be underestimated. And, for that reason, treating yourself to a nice meal – whether prepared by yours truly or picked up on Main Street – is a valuable act. I’m not sure that there’s anything a warm chocolate chip cookie can’t fix!

Food can take many forms, and not just literally! It can be a warm hug, a much-needed reward, a call home, and a memory. As college students juggling hectic lives and trying to balance everything that we’ve signed ourselves up for, food is one of the many things that we can control, and for that reason, it becomes much more important. For all of my fellow Blue Hens who have recently made the transition from meal plan to apartment kitchen, I hope this blog post has inspired you and made your stomach rumble. We have a lot on our plates, pun intended, so let’s at least make sure that we’re filling them up with something that would bring Guy Fieri straight to Flavortown! (Can you tell that my roommates and I have been watching too much Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives?)

Long Distance Friendships: The Struggles of Being Abroad by Jenna Newman

In my two-and-a-half years of being at the University of Delaware thus far, I have had the opportunity to spend time abroad twice. The first time was my freshman year and I spent about six weeks in London during Winter Session. Currently, I am two months into my four months abroad in Cameroon pursuing an internship. I’d be lying if I said that being away for so long didn’t take a toll on my relationships back at home. Especially “college friends” because you are so used to spending practically 24/7 with those people, however, I threw together some tips, tricks, and advice to best manage these friendships.

#1 Recognize that every friendship is different. I have some friends that I need to talk to regularly or else I know we are going to drift apart. Then I have other friends where we can not talk for months and then when we see each other again, we pick up right where we left off. One of my closest friends is AWFUL at showing emotion over text message, so when I was in London for Winter Session I barely heard from her. When I got back to campus that spring she ran up excitedly to see me. I admitted that I wasn’t even sure she missed me. All of that is to say that it’s important to recognize the differences in friendships and respect that not every relationship is going to look the same or have the same upkeep methods once you go abroad.

#2 Know that your real friends will stick around. Some of your friendships just aren’t going to last when you’re not around each other all of the time. That’s just the reality of life. My philosophy has always been that if I can keep one or two close friends from each stage of life I am in, then I’m doing something right. Time abroad will be a good way to tell who your real friends that are sticking around are. The real friends will be the people that check in to see how you’re actually doing, not just how the picture of you at the Eiffel Tower portrays you. They’ll be the friends that when you get back want to hear every single detail of every single day, not just ask you, “how was it?” expecting you to summarize your four month immersion experience in Africa in a sentence.

#3 It takes two people to maintain a relationship. It’s easy to get caught up in whatever is going on while you’re abroad and almost set expectations on your friends to be the ones to reach out to you. However, they could be feeling as though you’re so busy that you’ll just reach out if you have time. This could then lead to just not talking for way too long. It’s important to remember that it takes two people to maintain a relationship and it could be good to set up times that you can talk and catch up. A close friend and I pick a two-hour time frame twice a week that we’ll make sure to be paying attention to our phones so that we can text for a little while.

Long distance friendships can be hard. Especially when you’re used to doing even the mundane, like brushing your teeth, together. However, with a little hard work and determination you’ll be able to enjoy your time away and still come home to a great group of friends that you can pick up where you left off with!

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