Category: Sarah Blum (page 1 of 2)

“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.

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. 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 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.  

Study Spots – As Told By My Friends by Sarah Blum

It’s my second year at UD, and for the most part I feel like I have assimilated to college life pretty well. However, the one thing I still find myself struggling with is figuring out where to study. In my search for the perfect study-space (if such a thing exists) I have compiled a list of my friends’ favorite places to study.

1. The ISE Lab

I’ve known for quite some time now of my roommate Julia’s affection for the ISE lab. Still, I asked her where she likes to study most, and she confirmed my hunch. She went on to tell me that the atmosphere of the ISE lab puts her in a good headspace for studying. Julia always sits on the first floor and tries her best to be against a wall and not a window because she gets too distracted. However, because I know Julia well, I can confidently say that it’s not just the modern architecture that draws her to the ISE lab – it’s Einstein Bagels.

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“The Spring Weather Shift” by Sarah Blum

I’ve experienced the shift from winter to spring for 18 years, but it has never been so dramatic, or so welcome, until my first year of college. I’ve been on campus since August, and by now I feel as though I have a pretty good account of my bearings. I know where all of my classes are, I’ve ventured to almost every restaurant on Main Street, and I can manage to get from my dorm room to the bathroom at 7am when I’m still half asleep. Campus, my building, and my friends, are physically the same as they have been for the past nine months. Somehow, though, the shift to warmer weather has the power to magically change everything, making my experience during the spring semester much different from fall.

I remember the first day this year that I opened The Weather Channel app on my phone to find that the temperature was going to hit 70 degrees. Tired of staying inside during the seemingly endless Delaware winter, my friends and I almost immediately planned to eat lunch outside on the turf that day. The day before that, I had trudged to class in my winter coat and boots, nearly giving myself frostbite trying to carry an iced coffee while the wind whipped against me. But that first day of spring weather was completely different. Not only could I walk comfortably to class in a t-shirt and Birkenstocks, but somehow everyone seemed happier. The sky was bluer, my exams were easier, lunch from Russell was a little more bearable, and the turf in my shoes didn’t bother me as much. Continue reading

“The Second-Year Housing Struggle” by Sarah Blum

One thing I hadn’t really thought about coming into the spring semester was that I would have to choose where to live my sophomore year. As an honors freshman, I was put into Louis L. Redding Hall, which I am incredibly thankful for. The building is not only updated and beautiful, but it also harbors an amazing sense of community amongst honors students. I guess I was so infatuated that I hadn’t quite come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t possibly live in Redding forever. It really hit me when we all got e-mails about the time slots for our housing appointments.

One of the greatest things about Redding is how close all the floors and sections get. I got particularly lucky in that nearly everyone in my section became great friends fairly quickly in the year; however, this made the proposition of moving even harder. It’s basically impossible to find another building or floor to both accommodate and fit the needs of very different people who all have very different housing appointments. Still, though we knew it would be a huge struggle, we all held on to a little bit of hope. Continue reading

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