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Category: Lorraine Capenos (page 1 of 2)

“Sustainability on Campus” by Lorraine Capenos

As an environmental studies major, I think about sustainability a lot. Probably more than most college students, anyway. That being said, I’ve noticed that many of us college students struggle to implement environmentally friendly practices into our busy, hectic lifestyles. Many people don’t know where to begin, and even when students know better, they often find it difficult to choose the most eco-friendly choice because it inconveniences them or just slips their mind. That being said, there are many practices I’ve found to be pretty simple and easy to make a bit of difference and reduce my environmental impact.

First things first: you have to get educated. My first semester here at UD, I didn’t realize plastic bags couldn’t be recycled. Sure, I knew Ziploc bags had to be thrown away, but I didn’t realize that you couldn’t take your recyclables to the dumpster in a trash bag or they would be thrown away instead of recycled. This is because local recycling centers don’t have the machinery to process plastic film, so grocery bags and trash bags can’t be recycled. Other things, like batteries and food waste, can contaminate recycling, causing it to end up in a landfill, so be careful to only throw things out that you are sure can be recycled, and make sure they are clean when you toss them. Michelle Bennett, the UD Sustainability Officer, recently told one of my classes, “It seems counter-intuitive, but if you aren’t sure whether it’s recyclable, please just throw it in the trash,” so as not to contaminate the recycling. 

Reducing the waste we produce is also important, since recycling isn’t an ultimate solution. I take reusable bags with me to the grocery store and try to reuse jars and containers from foods like pasta sauce to store things like pencils and stationery. I have even reused jars as pots for small houseplants like succulents. I try to buy minimally packaged and ethically-sourced food when possible.

Additionally, I am conscious of my carbon and water footprints and try to reduce consumption of both. Part of this comes from eating a plant-based diet, which is less resource-intensive than eating animal products. It also comes from reducing time spent showering and running faucets, using cold water to wash my laundry instead of hot, turning lights off when they are not necessary and using natural light instead, and reducing the amount of air conditioning and heating I use.

The next step is one that is helpful when living on a college budget: reducing the amount I buy. Consumerism runs rampant in our society, but we don’t necessarily have to give into it. Instead of buying a new dress for every upcoming formal event, I ask my friends if I can borrow dresses they have already worn. I don’t buy clothes I don’t need and try to keep a relatively minimal wardrobe. I repurpose everything I can, and if I’m not using something, I take note of it, so I don’t buy a similar item again, and then I give the item away to a friend. I only make purchases that I have thought out for a while and know I will get a lot of use out of. This has not only saved me money, but it has also lessened my environmental impact by conserving resources and reducing my contribution to industrial pollution. 

Finally, transportation is a huge part of carbon footprints. I try to walk to class as much as possible, and if the weather is bad, I’ll take the bus. I carpool to the grocery store with housemates. Otherwise, I try to avoid driving and taking Ubers, since it is not only resource-intensive and polluting, but also expensive.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to sustainability, but I’ve learned that taking it one small step at a time is manageable and can become second nature. The environment benefits, and I save money most of the time. I would urge others to not only implement these steps, among others, but to also get educated and involved with environmental activities and policy in the local area. After all, the Earth is our home, and we only get one.

“What It’s Actually Like Living in a Sorority House” by Lorraine Capenos

Hi, my name is Lorraine Capenos and I live in a sorority house here on campus. And it’s surprisingly pretty normal.

Before I joined a sorority, I definitely had an idea in my head of what sorority girls were like. Movies and TV shows usually depict sorority houses as party venues or homes to intense, insecure, competitive girls who seem more like enemies than friends. They’re usually giant mansions filled with dozens of excitable girls.

But this hasn’t been my experience.

First, I don’t live in a mansion. The house I live in holds 15 girls but feels smaller than it sounds. It’s pretty similar in facilities to any other UD housing and is right on campus near other housing. It’s nice, but nothing crazy or fancy.

Second, we don’t have parties here. I can’t speak on behalf of other sororities, but our house is not a party venue. The girls who live here are more than happy to host visitors and chapter events like brunches and Airband preparations, but at the end of the day we have homework to complete and Zs to catch. We like to live in a clean, presentable house where people can have fun but still respect the fact that 15 girls are living in this house.

Third, sorority girls are just normal girls. There is nothing intense or competitive here. Mostly we all just want to get through the days with as little drama and as many smiles as possible. If other students can handle living in dorms, they can understand living with 14 housemates. At least we only have to share a bathroom with our suite, as opposed to the whole floor.

I have found living in my sorority house incredibly rewarding. In fact, I’m doing it again next year. It is an amazing way to get closer with others in the chapter, including the other house girls, but also everyone in the chapter who comes to the house for various purposes. I never walk to events or chapter meetings alone, and I’ve gotten to know many people better who I might not have otherwise had the chance to spend time with.

I have also enjoyed being in a location central to the chapter because I don’t have to go out of my way to attend certain events or help out the chapter. While some people may have to cross campus to get to the house, I just have to walk downstairs. I feel very in-the-loop in the chapter and I have many opportunities to be involved.

The logistics of living in the house work out nicely, as well. It’s similar, if not lower, pricing to other UD housing, free laundry, a nice kitchen, good location, and we can call facilities whenever something breaks or malfunctions in the house. We are far away enough from main campus to get some separation from classes, but still close enough to walk, and we have a bus stop nearby for days when the weather is less than optimal.

I would recommend living in a sorority house to anyone looking to get more involved in their chapter in a pretty low-commitment way, make lasting friendships, find a convenient place to live on campus, and have the ability to socialize and have private time in the same house. If you’re considering living in your chapter’s house, don’t let stereotypes dissuade you. Look more into it and take the opportunity if it presents itself.

“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.

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.

Rules to Stop Overextending Myself by Lorraine Capenos

As many students can understand, I have a bit of a problem with spreading myself too thin. I have always been this way, saying “yes” to as many commitments as I can, either because I can’t stand to miss out on an opportunity or because I would hate to possibly disappoint someone. In theory, I love the idea of constantly opening new doors in my life, but in practice it can be harmful to my mental health to constantly have things going on that I don’t always even want to be a part of. As an effort to take more time for myself and reduce the time I spend doing things that do not add value to my life, I have adopted a few rules to keep myself on track for the life I want to create.

#1: Learn to say “no”. My first rule is a rather obvious one, but it can be difficult in practice. When someone asks for a favor or your friends ask you to join them on something, my first instinct is always to help them out. But I’ve realized that if you are killing yourself trying to do a million things, you’ll be miserable and ineffective and any help of yours will be nearly worthless. It is better to invest a lot of time and effort into a couple things than to spread yourself too thin and waste your time. Saying “no” will not hurt anyone, and there will always be someone else to walk through the door that you chose not to open. Continue reading

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