Category: John Salsini-Tobias

“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!

“Opinions on a Busy Week” by John Salsini-Tobias

Three exams, two papers, and hours upon hours of online homework. And it isn’t even midterms week yet. Honors students are expected to put in plenty of work for their classes, especially for first year students who must take twelve or more credits of honors coursework. Combine this with extracurriculars like clubs with deadlines, interviews for new positions, and fraternity or sorority rush. It is easy to see how students can get behind on work that just builds on top of previous assignments. So how can studious undergrads put in the effort to stay on top of school while maintaining their social life and other fun activities? 

Procrastination is always the easy way out of work and favored by many smart honors students who are finally receiving a challenge with schoolwork. This habit will have to end as the semester plows ahead, leaving any stragglers behind. Setting a goal for the day and planning for the weeks ahead will help in time management, and will let you visualize and manage due dates with a to do list. This can be as simple as using Notes on your iPhone, which allows you to sync to your Mac, or even using dedicated annotation and checklist software such as Google Keep or Evernote. Extend this to specific classes or clubs and you’ll be all set to see what is on the table for the week and where you should focus your time. Once you find what you need to do, how can you find motivation to start?

Again, planning is key here. A goal in mind and determination is not always enough, so it helps to keep a reward in mind for completing the assignment. Depending on your enthusiasm for the work, the prize could be the enjoyment of writing a blog post for your interesting elective class. For many of us, a more realistic trophy might be a short study break with snacks and a few scrolls on Instagram. Keeping yourself on task until this study break may be the hardest part of studying, making it extremely important to minimize distractions and putting yourself in the right mindset.

Redding Hall provides many wonderful lounges to sit down and grind out an essay, but many tight-knit floor communities also make great use of the lounge for recreation and hanging out. This results in a poor study environment, but luckily Redding and the greater campus have many solutions to this problem. A variety of lounges for group or silent work can be found on the first floor, and if these fill up (during finals week they will), then the library offers the next logical solution. One great benefit of this location is the easy access to print and online sources, but again it can get crowded during busy weeks. Some of my favorite spots on campus where I can solely focus on my work are at the very modern ISE building or while enjoying a great coffee at Brew-HaHa! When the weather finally turns into spring, the expanse of The Green is great for a solar powered study session. 

With these tips, it is easy to divvy up a potentially dreadful week into several easy blocks of work. Make it your mission to finish your work on time and with your best effort. Honors students get work done! You own the game, don’t let the game own you!

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“Finals Week Study Music: Get Excited for the End of the Semester with These Tunes” by John Salsini-Tobias

Some songs will bring your mood up no matter what — a necessary thing in stressful times like this finals week. Whether you like to listen to music while you study, or while on snack breaks, every college student racks up the minutes on Spotify (or their other choice of music streaming service). End the semester with these songs and you’ll surely ace your finals. 

1. Too Much Coffee – SWMR

Let’s start with a relatable song for those pulling all-nighters before their exams this week. This song ramps up the energy for the punk band SWMRS, and will keep you awake just long enough to finish your cramming session. A catchy guitar riff is laid overtop the drum-and bell-center beat, distorted to achieve a grunge sound. This is then contrasted with the melodic background vocals and finally joined by the calming and defiant lead vocals. A youthful song for a youthful time in our lives, no exam will stand a chance against anyone listening to “Too Much Coffee.”

2.  Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet

Need a throwback to study for a history exam? Look no further than this rocker classic. Another guitar heavy song, the singer’s vocals undergo many changes from a whisper to shouting. Sharp dead notes provide perfect tempo behind the vocals, but once the guitar is free to sound, its power chords will resonate in your earbuds. Anyone near you in the library might be surprised when you start dancing, but there’s always time for a break in Club Morris. Once the overdriven guitar solo hits you, you’ll be grinding out any remaining you work you have in no time. 

3. Another You (feat. Kanye West) – The World Famous Tony Williams

A Kanye song you haven’t heard before? Such a thing won’t exist again after you press play on this bop. Bass thuds start this song, which quickly shift into jazzy piano and a drum beat. Tony Williams brings the soul on this track with a smooth chorus and verse. Kanye jumps in with heart and as always, the heat. Study sessions will feel shorter with this rhythmic and melodic track as you bump your head in time with the bass line. 

4. When I Grow Up – NF

The eerie chime of a glockenspiel starts this rap banger before NF jumps straight in with a verse. The drum jumps in, followed by a heavy triplet kick as the tone grows darker and heavier. Once the chorus hits, students can follow along and consider a musical career if their finals don’t end up going as planned. This is a great song for relieving stress, whenever your roommate isn’t there you may be jumping around while you sing along. 

5. Home (Remix) – Snoh Aalegra feat. Logic

Another jazz track, ghost notes on electric guitar set the mood of the song even before a slamming bass line or smooth vocals come in. The slow buildup from the intro verse to the pre-chorus and chorus makes the lyrics pop out at any listener, especially with the layers of background vocals assisting the depth of the words. Logic hops on the remix with his own blend of quick fired raps and slowed down lyrical breaks. The two then combine their musical talent on the ending chorus for a powerful feeling of comfort. If you ever need to take a quick walk to stretch your legs during the study grind, put “Home” on for your stroll. 

Transportation Around Campus: Speeding Between Classes by John Salsini-Tobias

Inevitably, every student will have two classes back to back, with seemingly no hope of making it all the way from Alison Hall to McDowell on time. In those first few months of school, it can be confusing and difficult to balance a new workload with new stresses of making classes on time. As the temperature drops and speed walking seems like a more realistic and less sweaty option, other modes of transportation should also be considered. Everything from a car to a scooter can be useful at this university, and even free up time outside of class.

The first and obvious choice for many is to simply use their legs to propel movement towards the classroom. Walking does not require parking, you do not have to follow any timetables, and it is a good option to remain healthy (and impress your Fitbit or Apple Watch). One big benefit, especially for first year students, is the ease of grouping up with new friends if you are both headed in the same direction. While walking is a viable option, it is also slow and can be made unpleasant depending on weather conditions. Let’s speed things up a bit.

If you wear Vans, you probably have at least thought about learning to skateboard. Now is the time, with one kick of propulsion and a little bit of gravity you can make it pretty far. If you don’t have the time to learn, an electric skateboard will ease the struggle of going uphill, but also set you back quite a bit of money. If these options are not particularly appealing, scooters offer all the same advantages with some extra stability. Either way, your commute times will no doubt decrease, but skateboarding may be tricky to learn at first and it can sometimes seem too fast for the sidewalk but too slow for the streets.

One of the most common options aside from walking is using a bicycle. Even faster than skateboarding, biking can make a twenty-minute walk into a five-minute ride. Personally, I’ve been saved from being late to class by using my bike on too many occasions. Again, this option is very good for your health, if that’s of interest, and you can also avoid bad weather by powering through the wind and rain. With ample parking racks by every university building, and bike lanes throughout Newark, the main negatives of biking – stolen bikes and car drivers – are greatly reduced. 

If you feel like showing off your ride and paying way too much for a parking spot you could even bring your car to campus. It is extremely handy for trips to the beach or to the mall, but I wouldn’t recommend taking the whip to class. Not only will you have to pay more for metered parking at each parking location, but you probably won’t even save much time between the specific lots and construction-induced traffic. The far more sensible road-going transport option would be the very convenient and efficient UD Shuttle system. The DoubleMap app allows you to track the buses in real time and plan your stops and schedule around the timetable. The strict schedule means that sometimes buses just won’t have the right timing for you, but if you have a class at South Campus, you’ll be glad this option is provided. 

Overall, with the multitude of options available, any student will be able to find a way to make their classes on time, and even use saved time to get more work done. I choose to keep a balance between using my old bike and walking to class, and often end up walking my bike back with fellow classmates, but I also have a car on campus for the weekend. It’s completely up to the individual, and they can decide any number of ways how to stay on top of their schedule.

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