Reflection

 

A-Christmas-Story-a-christmas-story-5082964-640-480Fall 2014 semester.  Check!

Removal of the coffee IV.  Check!

Sleep.  In process.

Finally, the moment we all have been waiting for, winter break!  It’s officially one week into our break.  After surviving/conquering another semester of school I think it’s safe to say we all deserve a nice relaxing break.  Looking back at the semester, I am left sitting here wondering where the time went!  It feels like yesterday I was sitting in a classroom introducing myself by name, program track and one interesting fact about myself.

The end of the semester always seems to have mounds of papers, presentations, and finals that engulf me in a swarm of stress.  I am always well aware of this but it’s unavoidable.  I can prepare all semester but that last week is just inevitably full of stress.  While the stress can be a little overwhelming at times, the last few weeks have actually been the most rewarding.  I have been able to reflect on the past 15 week’s work of work and see my self-growth.

Winter break to some graduate students is the time to get stuff done, and for some, to catch up on those extracurricular activities you may have had to hold off on towards the end of the semester.  Remember that this is a time for break.  Allow yourself to enjoy life and eliminate the stress so it doesn’t become your state of “normal.”

Before you know it Spring 2015 will be here.  This next semester, I personally have some big planning to do because my program is changing and I will be graduating earlier than I originally anticipated!  I have started to look for jobs, work on my resume, explore the option of moving and I have to prepare my current work in the Graduate Admissions Office to be handed over to a new employee.  (Sidenote: If you’re looking for a graduate assistantship for next year, you can now view a list of the openings for next year on our website.)

Well enough about planning and lets have some fun!  The PHS field house ice rink is hosting open skate on the following dates: Jan. 12, 19 and 26 from 1:30 to 2:45.

Sledding, who doesn’t like sledding?  Find the nearest hill and experience being 5 years old again.  Now I know you’re tempted – you’re welcome. Otis LOVES the snow.  We take him winter hiking and walk him to a nearby field where he can run.

unnamedHowever you choose to spend your winter break, I hope it’s a wonderful and relaxing time for you.

 

Mad Dash to the Finish

It’s that time of the year when the holidays are right around the corner and it’s getting colder and darker outside (making it almost impossible to get out of bed and attend morning classes!).

With the end of the semester in sight you are probably starting to feel a little sluggish.  Maybe you’ve gotten sick or you’re downright exhausted. But, this is not the time to slow down.  Starting off the semester strong is easy. Maintaining that concentration through the last quarter of the semester is where most of us can agree, we struggle. This is the time I try to stay away from the dreaded all-nighters and eating a pack of Oreo’s for dinner.tumblr_mejpkege5k1rvvs8to1_500

This mad dash to winter break is so close you can almost touch it.  One half of you is in celebration mode and the other half in full-on panic. Here are some quick tips to keeping a nice, healthy, balance between the middle:

Breathe! Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done but, take a moment to sit and relax for a few minutes. Doing simple breathing exercises can help elevate stress.

Organize. I can’t say this enough! Utilize that planner of yours. Jot down assignments, due dates, test, etc. This is an ultimate life saver.

Reward yourself. What a great motivator than giving yourself something to look forward to, whether it is an hour of free time, or a spoon full of cookie butter (ok, that one is a personal favorite). You have worked hard, you deserve it!

Make time for friends. It can be easy to shut the door on your social life. However, this will make you even more stir crazy than focused. DO NOT become a hermit.

Utilize your resources. On campus there are a ton of resources at your fingertips. Sometimes we are unaware of all the resources that are available to us. The fitness center offers lots of fun classes and workout equipment, the Counseling Center has a lot of information on test anxiety and stress management, and always hosts events to help motivate and eliminate stress during finals week. Also, the Graduate Admissions Office is giving away coffee during the ENTIRE WEEK of finals week, for FREE!!imagesSometimes I find that I need a little change to help re-motivate myself to jump back into a project, paper, or studying. Some quick and easy things I will do are, go for a walk; even if it is around through the hallways. Play some music; sometimes I will put Pandora on while I get myself organized and ready to begin again. Change your environment; no one likes spending 8+ hours straight in one seat. I’ll move from the computer lab to the library, to the ACC and even go home. Set a time; sometimes I will give myself one hour increments to work. I will stay focused for the hour, and give myself as little break afterwards. This helps put the accountability on the time you set rather than yourself. Pick one; this is a bad habit of mine. It is so easy to start something and jump into something completely different. DON’T DO IT! Stay on one thing and finish it through.

Most importantly, go through the rest of Fall 2014 semester saying “I CAN DO THIS!” it may seem daunting now but when it is all done and over you will be amazed at how much you accomplished. tumblr_inline_mijzt96m9H1qz4rgp

Truth: What grad school is REALLY like

Whether you’re considering grad school or have already decided to attend, you have probably been wondering what it’s really like.  Now that we are more than half way through the semester, I’ve seen the differences between undergraduate  and graduate life. Those of you in grad school right now will probably agree.  For those of you who have yet to experience grad school – you can thank me later for the warning ;)

spiritless

When it comes to school spirit, your undergrad life tends to revolve around spreading the school spirit. You go to hockey games, participate in homecoming weekend, and various events around campus. In graduate school we have come used to saying “we don’t have time for that!” Your school spirit is shown through yelling “go cardinals” as you race by a group of basketball players in the hall, since you are 10 minutes late for a meeting. Sometimes, you may not even know what your school colors are.  All you know is one is light and one is dark!

Social life in undergrad consisted of going downtown every weekend, lunch dates and slumber parties. In graduate school, the only social life you have is with your computer and on social media. If you do happen to have a slumber party, it is with your lab partner and you two have mistakenly fallen asleep on the floor of your room with your computer screen flashing at you.

elite-daily-mid-terms-pass-out-library-1The feeling you get walking out of a meeting with your academic advisor as an undergrad is phenomenal. You feel like you can touch the sky. You’re moving forward in your program. Classes are being checked off as completed. You are almost there. In graduate school, your progress meetings can really test your ability to accept feedback; constructive feedback that it.  (Click here for a great one page resource about accepting positive and negative feedback.)

criticismCoffee, oh coffee! Yes, your undergraduate life is full of coffee. Different kinds of coffee to be exact. You try pumpkin on Monday, a latte on Tuesday, Wednesday is hot, Thursday it’s iced and Friday has whip cream all over it! BUT, in graduate school it’s Monday through Sunday, XXL, dark, two espresso shots for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

strong-coffeeSo yea, I am not going to lie and won’t sugar coat this – graduate school is a LOT different from your undergraduate experience. Thursday is once again a weeknight.  Your text books are bigger than ever.  You are expected to read them.

But this is a whole new level of learning, so why wouldn’t it be harder, more time consuming, and stressful?  Despite everything being a little less fun and a little more exhausting, I still believe it’s totally worth it.  I’m being challenged and learning so much everyday, and in the end will have a valuable degree in my hands… after a couple more cups of coffee.

Midterm Madness

a067ff47c0099b30af55d405ede2fa23 Many of you have probably already taken your midterms at this point or been working to submit midterm papers or projects.  This time of year seems to suddenly be so busy that it’s tough to stay afloat. Here are some of my best suggestions to get through it all:

Don’t start freaking out. It’s not the end of the world, yet.  Retaining all of your basic study skills is helpful; flashcards, re-writing your notes, re-reading chapters, visiting professor office hours are all the skills you already know. (Note: giving your professor little chocolate treats will NOT help you pass your midterm). Keep in mind that the midterm generally covers almost all the information from the first half of the semester. This is where you may want to skip the idea of “winging it.

Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc. – log off!  Major distraction, especially when it comes to finding out the latest gossip. When setting time aside to study, that time is just for studying your school content not your social life.

Say no to procrastination – Easier said than done right?  Cramming everything in one night just isn’t going to work. Let’s be real. Be sure to prep, giving yourself enough time.  Typically professors will give you a course schedule with the dates of the midterm on it. If you happen to, let’s say, wait till the last minute, go gather all the class notes and PowerPoints and do a simple review look over. Doing this with a buddy from the class may be helpful. Remember to read, review, and highlight all important side notes and information your professor may have stressed in class. There were emphasized for a reason.

Budget your time - Scheduling time is a life saver. Recently for myself, I have found the scheduling by the hour is becoming much more useful. When scheduling, I include all of my responsibilities. I find that if I have a few simple, quick, easy tasks to do I will get them out of the way first. This helps ease the look of the workload and I am much more able to focus on studying.

Sleep - Yes, I said sleep!  Be sure to get plenty of sleep before the test. You do not want to be exhausted for your tests; this is a sure way to end up with bad grades. On top of sleep be sure to get a good breakfast in before the test.

Cheating - One simple rule: Just don’t do it! There are strong academic policies set it place that result in strict academic punishments that can and will result in academic dismissal.

Comfort – When studying it is important to find a comfortable place to do so, whether it be your room, the library or at a random seating area around campus, you want to be comfortable. Other than needing a great comfy place to study, everyone studies differently.

I hope this helps a little bit.  Just remember, it will all be over soon!

Getting Cozy

1377976_10102551241204097_1935092419032890762_nSeptember 23rd, marks the first day of fall.  This particular region of the North Country/ Adirondacks is blessed with having so many outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking to spending time on quiet bodies of water.  It is also home to some of the most scenic roadways imaginable as summer begins to hibernate and the fall colors start to come alive.  Against the bright blue sky, leaves in shades of hot red, glowing orange, vibrant yellow and earthy brown start to appear.

One question I always have is “where is the BEST place to see the changing colors?”  Everyone I ask seems to be stumped as they fumble around with a direct answer.  That is because there is no “best” one place to see the beautiful radiant fall colors.

Some suggestions I have heard include a short hike up Baker Mountain located between Long Lake and Tupper Lake off Route 30, and or if you don’t feel like hiking, take a long scenic drive. Some specific stretches of scenic roadway include Route 86 to Paul Smiths, Route 3 to Bloomingdale, McKenzie Pond Road and Forest Home Road to Lake Clear.

If you are lacking transportation or motivation to hike, you can always take a short walk and or bike ride around campus.  You will be amazed at what you see.  The different pieces of artwork displayed around campus have certain radiance in the changing leaves and cozier weather.  Walking down the main drag of campus shows fall beauty in many ways.

This is the perfect season for pumpkins, bonfires, nature walks, s’mores, autumn leaves, corn mazes, lattes and apples; seeming to hit each and every sense we have.  The best part about this area is the easy access to a pumpkin patch, apple farm, or cider mill.  A great site to find out different pumpkin patch locations in the Plattsburgh area is to visit: www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org

Our academic semester is now in full bloom but don’t forget to take time to breathe and view the beauty happening around you.

So far so good.

IMG_20140905_141058_583Being on campus all summer long and living nearby, I felt like I never really left between semesters.  I have grown to know the campus very well over the past few years as an undergraduate student and through summer employment.  However, this didn’t stop the anxious feeling to start the new semester this fall.  The semester felt like the first day of second grade all over again.  I was excited to see old friends and make new ones, put on my favorite outfit, and break into my shiny new notebooks.

While the first week of classes can be less than exciting, with professors going over the syllabus, establishing your workload, times and dates for deadlines, and his/her availability, it’s also a great time to get to know your classmates and build a sense of community within your cohort/class.

My general feeling is that this semester = so far so good.  The first week required some experimenting to figure out what works and what doesn’t when it came to study locations, buying vs bringing food from home, walking vs driving, available parking, buying vs renting text books, and deadlines.

At times it can be overwhelming with the amount of work that is due over the course of the semester but it is important to take each day, project, and paper, one at a time.

Having a planner is absolutely crucial to me. This is my life saver when it comes to keeping track of deadlines, projects, papers and events. I’m finding that in graduate school, it is even more important to keep track of your deadlines to eliminate the last minute rush.  In undergrad it may have been possible to stay up all night and crank out a paper, but the depth of research involved in graduate school no longer allows this type of procrastination!

We are already in our 4th week of classes here at SUNY Plattsburgh, which means the semester is already about 25% over – hard to believe!  Here’s hoping it continues to go smoothly for all of us :)smooth+sailing

Coffee coffee coffeeeee!

imagesCoffee, tea, cappuccino, latte, sugar, no sugar, extra (x3) sugar, cream.  However you like your wake-up beverage, Plattsburgh has a place that will make it just how you like it.

Many of the campus buildings have small cafés within them where you can find all sorts of treats to feed your cravings. These cafes are open before classes begin (around 7:30AM) and stay open into the early evening (5:30PM). There is one located in Hawkins Hall and Sibley Hall, as well as a Tim Horton’s and Campus Express in the ACC building. You can find information about all campus dining locations on the College Auxiliary Services webpage.

I should also mention that Einstein Bagels will be opening up in Hawkins Hall once renovation is complete!

Einstein_Bros._Bagels_logoAs a graduate student many departments have a lounge area specifically for your major, most of which have a community coffee pot. This is definitely something you will want to utilize, because if you’re like me, you will spend much of your time there!

If you are driving, biking, or walking into campus and want to visit an off-campus location, Plattsburgh has a Dunkin Donuts, open 24 hours and roughly 0.6 miles from campus. There is a Starbucks 0.9 miles from campus, and a small local shop called Koffee Kat which is 2.5 miles from campus. There is also a newer place called My Cup of Tea which is 0.6 miles for campus and offers more than 95 varieties of Republic of Tea, coffee, and custom beverages.

If you haven’t already heard about Cardinal Cash, consider loading some onto your ID card.  There are bonus dollars added to the amount on your card based on how much you initially deposit, plus there’s the everyday convenience of not needing to dig out cash or a credit card to make small purchases.  Cardinal Cash is accepted at every dining location on campus, including vending machines.  Many off campus businesses will accept Cardinal Cash too, and may throw in a student discount or offer you a special as a SUNY Plattsburgh student.  To view a complete list visit the Where to Use Your Cardinal Card/Cash page online.

It may take a few weeks to get into the groove of finding the right caffeinated beverage just how you like it and just when you need it, but I am confident that Plattsburgh has enough options to make everybody happy.  Just make sure you don’t get overly excited and accidentally order 3, like Lorelai Gilmore: