CollegeCultureInspirationMusic

Everyone has a playlist that gets them pumped up for a workout or to wake up early in the morning, but not all soundtracks are built for the perfect study session or relaxing at the end of the day. Finding what gets you going in the morning and what keeps you happy as the day goes on can really affect your mood throughout the day. If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas from the experts.

Waking Up:

Some people need coffee to wake up, and some people need music (I need both!). Whether it’s a jolt of a song to shock you awake, or a slow, relaxing one to arise any sleepyhead, finding the right song so you wake up on the right side of the bed can really affect your mood for the whole day. It can be your favorite song that makes you smile every time you hear it, or it can be something that is scientifically engineered to get you up and out of bed. Spotify partnered with music psychologist David Greenberg to create the ultimate wake up playlist of twenty songs. Today.com has the playlist written out, and can also be accessed on Spotify here. His belief is that, instead of using the loudest songs possible, it’s better to listen to songs that gradually wake us up, preferably with positive lyrics.

Working Out:

When working out, you need something to keep you pumped up and keep going to push yourself even when you want to quit. When putting together a playlist, come up with a list of songs that get you moving naturally (i.e. songs that make you want to get up and dance!). For some, it’s some of the best sweat-worthy rap and R&B that pushes them to finish up the work out. For others, it can be Top 40 divas hits that get them going. If you’re doing a workout like Zumba where it’s all about dancing and shaking those hips, you’ll find yourself with some upbeat tunes that just keep you moving. Fitness Magazine and Six Pack Fitness both provide links to Spotify playlists so if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own, they’ve got you covered. Just be careful when you’re running: oftentimes your body naturally tries to match your step to the beat of the music, so if your music is too fast, you might tire out too quickly. Don’t forget to include some slower songs for when you reach the cool down of your workout, and breathe easy.

Studying:

We all know how studying can be a bit of a drag when you don’t have the right music to listen to. While some prefer to study in silence, a vast majority of the current generation finds themselves more productive when there is background noise to nod their heads along to. Studies in the past have shown that listening to classical music can improve cognitive function. Other studies have suggested that listening to music with lyrics can be distracting, so finding a playlist that’s instrumental-based works better than having Top 40s on repeat. However, not all of us might find that classical music gets the creative and studious juices flowing, so experiment yourself and find what fits for you. As everyone studies differently, music affects us differently too. Buzzfeed came out with a list of songs they find to be helpful while trying to get work done. Spotify also has plenty of playlists under their “Focus” tab, within Genre & Moods. ESM (Electronic Study Music) is my personal favorite.

Relaxing:

Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s version of relaxing is different. However, some songs are scientifically known to be calming to the human mind and are better to listen to when you’re in the mood to unwind. In that article, Ryot came out with the top 10 most relaxing songs – be careful though; as explained in the article, it did mention how the first song, “Weightless” by Marconi Union, was so calming that the women in the study found themselves drowsy, and thus listening to this song could be problematic when driving.

One of the easiest ways to shut the world out and completely change your mood is by putting headphones on and listening to your favorite music. Your mood throughout the day changes so many times, and is affected by the schedule you have that day and by your environment. As you go through your day, try switching up your music and see how it affects your mood.

Image: Flickr

EducationSkills

There’s always that point in the semester when you’re feeling burned out and no longer motivated. There’s so much on your to-do list that you don’t even know where to start. Procrastination puts you in a loop – you’re not in the right mood to do work and feel unproductive, so you decide to do it later. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” you say. Instead, you’re busy doing things you don’t need to do in order to avoid everything you’re supposed to do. Netflix? A nap?

Here are some tips on battling procrastination:

1. The best way to get something done is to begin.

We tend to overthink large tasks that we have to accomplish, but once we actually start, we lose track of time. Don’t shoot for completion in one sitting. Just begin. After completing some tasks, progress will follow.

2. Assess the task.

Divide the task into smaller pieces. It is easier to tackle smaller chunks than one huge task. For example, do you have a 10-page paper to write for next week? Make a plan to write 2-4 pages every day. The quality of your work is going to be much better than writing it the night before and you’re not even going to notice that you’ve reached the tenth page.

3. Schedule work sessions.

Make an hourly schedule for things you have to accomplish. Progress adds up and gives you confidence that you can finish the task. Set goals for each session, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t finish something, just move on to the next thing.

4. Eliminate distractions.

It’s so easy to get distracted by your cellphone or social media. Set your phone on airplane mode or put it to the side out of view. You probably don’t realize how much time you waste browsing the Internet when instead you could be doing work.

5. Find a (good) study partner. 

I’m sure you’d love to hang out with your best friend, but what if she/he is a distraction to you? You have so much to discuss that studying goes to the side. Find someone who cares about his or her academic performance even more than you do. It’s good to hang out around people who inspire you to try harder.

6. Be reasonable.

Don’t beat yourself up trying to make your project perfect. People revise multiple times. Put your best effort and complete the task on time. You’ll have hundreds of project assigned to you during your career and not all of them are going to be perfect.

7. Reward yourself.

You’re probably your own biggest critic – give yourself a break sometimes! No one’s going to treat you better than you do. After completing a task, reward yourself. Get a latte, a movie ticket, call your best friend, or play a sport that you enjoy. Have an incentive, something to look forward to while you’re completing the task.

Procrastination might seem like a challenging battle to win, but you can do so by taking small steps, like finding the right study buddies. The most important thing is to begin, and you’ll get through the semester with flying colors!

Image: Gratisography

EducationSkills

Have a big test coming up? Working on a project with others? Study groups can be a very effective – and fun! – way to further your education. Studying with others provide the opportunity to make sure you didn’t miss out on any pertinent information and to learn from one another if a certain topic is confusing to you. It also allows you to explain concepts to others, which helps you better remember the information.

Run a productive study group with these techniques:

Create a Study Guideline before the Meeting

Email everyone in the Study Group an outline for the meeting. If there’s a topic you’re focusing on, or if it’s a broad overview of everything that might be on a test, break the meeting down by half hour or hour so that you can all stay on track. This way, people know what to expect when they come to the study group. Also, if there are any missing topics or terms, they can be filled into the guideline before everyone meets.

Pinpoint Confusing Concepts

Utilize the Study Group time to focus on confusing concepts. Go over the class lessons as a whole, but spend more time on topics that are more challenging. Try explaining the concepts to each other – saying what you need to know out loud will help you remember it later on.

Arrive Prepared

Don’t show up to Study Groups not having looked over the material. You want to be a participating member and offer your knowledge. Avoid joining the study group just to sit back and check your notes. Help others on topics they might be fuzzy about. Arrive ready to have a conversation and to prepare for the upcoming test or project.

Divvy Up Responsibilities

Before everyone meets for the Study Group, dividing responsibilities is a great way to relieve some of the burden of studying. Each week someone can take on the responsibility of being the leader of the Study Group, or you can designate just one person, and he or she can break down the topics that need to be covered and who is in charge of each one. If one person in the Study Group is more knowledgeable in the History of the Atomic Model, another person is better at explaining the Periodic Table, and you understand the Ionic and Metallic Bonding, you can all work together to teach other these topics. Play up your strengths to help yourself and others.

Limit Study Group Size

To prevent too much socialization and to make sure everyone has a chance to participate, limit the Study Group size to four to six people. This way everyone’s voice can be heard and it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Study with classmates who share the same goal of earning good grades. This isn’t social hour or a gossip group, so choose to study with people who want to focus and learn.

Make the Timing of Meetings Manageable

In order not to get burned out, overwhelmed, or easily distracted, make the Study Group meetings no more than two hours, with a ten minute break. It’s better to meet for two hours twice a week than four hours once a week. You’ll all be more productive and more time to study and sort out what questions you have. Meet in your school’s library, a local coffee shop, in an empty classroom, or outside on the grass – somewhere that is conducive to paying attention and being able to hear one another.

Eliminate Distractions

This isn’t the time for everyone to be on their phones texting or listening to music. Put phones, laptops, and other devices away. Use the time you have to stay focused and on target. This is the time to pick each other’s brains about confusing concepts, so make the most of it!

Bring Snacks

During your short break, it never hurts to have a granola bar or piece of fruit on hand. Stay energized during this power hour(s) of Study Group.

What tips do you have for running productive Study Groups?

Image by Breather

LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

Education

When people hear that I am an anthropology major, they usually look at me with a half-curious, half-sympathetic expression. My focus being on sociocultural anthropology, I look at a wide range of social phenomena in cultures, from social structure to identity issues to religion and even race politics. While my beloved major has surely filled my brain with endless, maybe unworkable Geertz and Boasian theory, it has also taught me plenty about how to understand the crazy, ever-changing world we live in. Hoping these will be helpful to you, too, below are three essential life lessons that I’ve learned from studying anthropology.

The world is much larger than we know.

Throughout the years, I’ve read ethnographies from remote villages, country towns, and inner city neighborhoods. I have been amazed that, while humans are similar to at our core, we all experience life so differently. Can you imagine a world where women’s’ social roles are dominant as opposed to that of men? Where siblings are expected to marry one another? Where magic is used to explain weather occurrences? This all exists! I’ve learned that our world is very diverse, which leaves no room for judgment, only greater curiosity.

Always consider context.

Even if you’ve only taken Anth 101, you’ve probably heard the professor stress this point. Considering context means to reflect on how environment, time, people, culture, and relationships affect the situation at hand. Not only is this point useful for academic research, but I’ve also found that context is a useful tool in dealing with conflict or frustration. If you take a moment to think about what forces have shaped someone’s words or actions, you may realize that that person is not totally to blame.

Think critically about everything.

This has helped me to explore my own personality, in the sense that critical thinking helps differentiate what is socially expected and what is essentially your personality. For example, are you posting a picture of yourself at a party to show that you are a typical college student or to show that you love photography and it’s a great shot? Are you wearing that blouse because everyone else loves it or because you love it? Honestly answering questions like these has kept me centered, and hopefully will do the same for you!

Image: PicJumbo

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Meet Emily Armstrong. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and insanely talented. At just 23 years old, she is a graphic designer at Barneys New York and is tasked with projects such as creating woodland creature masks for children, designing posters for brand invitations, and collaborating on exclusive cosmetic bags that are incredibly chic.

Passionate about art and illustrating, Emily raves about modern art, her love of design, and how she one day hopes to live in Paris. She is a big-time reader and loves to spend her free time at The Strand. We’re big fans of Emily and her work, and we love the best advice she’s ever received: ‘Make yourself proud every day’ and ‘Focus on your cool.’ It’s pretty obvious that she’s got the cool part down pat.

Name: Emily Armstrong
Age: 23
Education: B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia
Follow: Blog / Portfolio / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Emily Armstrong: I realized that when I was in school, I had such an advantage. People were more likely to reach out to me because I was a student and young. They were willing to share advice because they didn’t see me as competition yet. Seizing my youth meant realizing that I was at such an advantageous place and not letting that hinder me but taking advantage of it.

CJ: You received your BFA in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. What sparked your love of design?

EA: My love of art came before my love of design. Art started for me when I was very young. In second grade I was drawing caricatures of my classmates. I realized that I liked to draw clothes and people, but design came later. In college I decided to study art, and my parents were a little hesitant. They introduced graphic design to me as a more marketable skill. I ended up loving it after I took a few classes. Those classes sparked my love for design.

Design is everywhere. The visual language is more personal when you’re so close to design.

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CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

EA: I loved multicultural literature. We read a book about a different culture every few weeks and discussed it and gave presentations. I love reading, and I think it’s a romantic skill and related to art from a storytelling aspect.

I liked my beginning physics class a lot.

My favorite class was my portfolio class. Our first assignment was to create 20 images in any medium, and we only had a couple of weeks. The professor just wanted us to start hashing out our ideas that we had built up and to not overthink the images we were making. I ended up with a lot of cool images that I’m still proud of even though it was my junior year in college. I’m inspired to continue adding on to that body of work.

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Barneys New York. What does your role entail?

EA: I’m a print graphic designer, so I make our print collateral – things from signage in the stores to books and catalogs in the mail and invitations for events. I can be really creative with these projects. For example, if a designer uses a print in their collection a lot, we might pull that image and make it a liner in the envelope. I love seeing the finished product and having it in your hands.

Right now I’m working on a special project that is in collaboration with Baz Luhrmann, and I get to do some fun drawings. I drew masks of woodland animals for children who come visit the stores. Barneys gives me the freedom to use my skills and have freedom with my work. I’m so excited to be a part of the Baz campaign – he’s a hero of mine.

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CJ: You’ve interned at some amazing places such as Donna Karan and Barneys New York. What are your biggest takeaways from these experiences?

EA: A lot of my experience with Donna Karan was really about New York. It was about getting acclimated to New York as well as the internship. No one thought it was lame that I was from Missouri – I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I felt really empowered by the city and having this internship. I had never learned about fabric before, and my internship was in the fabric department. They would give me a swatch of fabric and I had to source it in the city. I had to find a similar weight and content of that fabric swatch with a specific price point. I was set free to do the project, and while that might seem overwhelming, to be able to complete a task like that and do it well was the most empowering thing. Donna Karan was about me feeling confident with myself and in the city.

My Barneys internship was instrumental in getting my job now. Because I had the New York experience before, I learned a lot of skills and how to be detail-oriented. I was learning from the best, and this internship was helpful with my aesthetic sensibility.

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CJ: You were a Student Ambassador for Stylitics, the largest digital closet platform on the web. What were your duties as a Student Ambassador?

EA: That was such a crazy chapter in my life because during my first summer here there was a Parsons program put on that I attended. At the networking brunch, I met the founders of Stylitics and they asked me to be a part of this program. My duties were to spread the word about Stylitics, so I did street style photography on-campus, I talked to student reporters, and generated buzz for this company.

The founders wanted to start a high school program, and my sister was in high school at the time, and I offered to help make a promotional poster. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal saw my poster and she reached out. The conversation was about Stylitics and the ambassador program, but I formed that bond with her and ended up being in that huge newspaper.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

EA: I love arranging elements, making beautiful compositions, and making textures with text.

The most challenging part is my tendency to always want to illustrate everything. I can’t help it. Restraining myself from illustrating, creating something graphic, and working with type.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EA: I like to wake up a little early at 8am so I can make my French press coffee and bagel, and then take some time to read. I get ready, take the train to Rockefeller Center. Recently I’ve been working on a brand’s invitation and poster. After work I love going to yoga. I encourage everyone to do yoga – you get strong, healthy, and energized. Then I go home and eat leftovers.

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CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EA: I try not to let it show in the office ever. After work it’s nice to do some cardio so your brain can be free. Taking that energy from the stress and replacing it in a better way is so important.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EA: Just Kids by Patti Smith or 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

EA: If you don’t like volleyball, that’s okay. Focus your attention somewhere else. You don’t have to be the best at everything. You should not feel lame about wanting to do art, embrace the music you like, and don’t be overwhelmed with social situations. There’s a huge reset button when you graduate high school. Do the best you can and not be wrapped up. I’m so happy for all the reset buttons in my life!

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Images: Emily Armstrong; Lauren Jessen

EducationSkills

The stress levels are high and the amount of time to study for tests and get the last assignments of the semester finished are extremely low. Many of you are probably pulling all-nighters and downing cup after cup of coffee just to stay awake. It’s going to feel like a long last couple of weeks before we’re officially finished with this semester, but once we get through our last days of classes, we can take our finals and go home.

But getting through these tough times are easier said than done. This is why I’m here to help you rock finals week. The better you do on your exams, the better you’ll feel about dedicating so much of your time to study.

Here are some of the things that I like to do to prepare for Finals week:

  • Take naps – a well-rested brain is a higher performing one. While all-nighters can be beneficial to you, you can’t focus on much of anything if you didn’t get much sleep. It’s also harder to retain the information you learned.
  • Stay focused – I know you don’t need anyone to tell you this, but I know how easy it is to get distracted. One minute you’re practicing math problems and the next you’re on Facebook. If you find yourself losing focus, maybe try new methods of studying or if you’ve been studying for one test for hours, maybe try studying for another one. You don’t have to spend hours doing this but make sure you do spend a few hours focused. Remove all of the distractions if necessary or study in a quiet place like the library.
  • Form study groups – Sometimes it helps having other people in your class around when you’re studying so if you need help you don’t have to go too far to get it.
  • Listen to classical music – There are a lot of studies that say that classical music helps you retain more information and others that say it doesn’t really help with anything, but I personally listen to classical music when I’m studying to a.) Block out distracting noise and b.) To help lower my stress levels. If you’ve never listened to classical music while studying, please give it a try. I recommend making a classical music station on Pandora.

Also, here are some things to do before you take your finals:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast – This is a tip for the day of your exams. If you can, try to have a nice, big meal for breakfast. It’s not good to start your day off with an empty stomach, especially before an exam.
  • Use the bathroom – I know this might seem like common sense, but some people just want to get their finals over and done with that they forget to go to the bathroom, even if they don’t think they have to go at the moment.
  • Got a cold? – Bring cough drops and tissues. You never know when you might need them.
  • Wear comfortable clothes – No need to get dressed up to take a test. Break out the sweats and the comfy shirts with the long sleeves. Don’t bother brushing your hair or really doing anything to fix your appearance. It’s final week! You have a right to be as casual as you want to be.
  • Believe in yourself – You’re only going to do as good as you think you’re going to do so think good thoughts and try your best to stay positive.
  • It’s only a test – I don’t like not getting good grades on my finals, but I always remind myself that it’s just an exam and it’s not a reflection of my intelligence.

Finals week is really stressful and it can seem like it’ll never end, but it will. Just remember to treat yourself well during this time. Eat three (healthy) meals. Get a good amount of sleep. And stay positive. Study as much as you can and just do the best that you can.  Soon this will all be behind us and next semester will be a clean slate.

Good luck everyone! Rock those finals!

Image: Ryan McGilchrist

EducationHealthSkills

Here we are, slowly creeping into mid-December and that only means one thing: finals week. Sleep is probably the first or last thing on your mind right now. If sleep is not one of your priorities, hopefully by the end of this article it’ll move up a level or two in importance.

  1. The Facts

Today, about 75% of people experience some type of sleep issue a few times a week, and about 50-70 million Americans have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. With this fast-paced, money-making, work-obsessed, change-achieving culture, America is reaching for perfectionism, ignoring the personal stakes that may entail. Lack of sleep is causing unintentional accidents on the road, chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as cancer, and a reduced level of productivity. When I asked a “4.0” or A+ friend what she thinks of sleep, she laughed and noted that most of the time, there’s simply not enough time for it. Is sleep really that underappreciated? Studies suggest that school aged children need about 10 hours of sleep; teens need 9-10 hours, while adults need 7-8 hours. In a survey, only 30% of adults reported getting over six hours of sleep while only 31% of teens reported getting at least eight hours of sleep.

  1. Memory Booster

Receiving the adequate amount of sleep actually helps you remember things after learning a new task. However, it seems as though students are actually skipping out on sleep in order to cram and essentially, remember more information. Next time you cram for your Bio exam, try studying all day, sleeping all night, and rising early the following morning to review – you may have much better results!

  1. Weight Gain

Oh no… college students, the freshman 15 was real. We all know firsthand that this is no myth. And here I am, as a sophomore, trying to shed those painful memories away with the help of my fabulous treadmill. Lack of sleep causes those numbers on the scale to increase. “Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite” says The Harvard Women’s Health Watch. It’s true! Think about it, how many times do you end up grabbing that bag of potato chips when writing that essay at 3:00 a.m., or how often you order delivery because there’s no time or your cravings are at an all-time high? Sleeping not only cuts off all chances of cravings, but it also promotes proper metabolism function.

  1. Morning Crankiness

Sleep deficiency causes irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and the ultimate case of moodiness. Notice that when you have slept plenty, you wake up happy, content, and almost excited to conquer your day. On the other hand, waking up to a firetruck alarm clock when it seems like you haven’t slept enough, makes you want to curl back into a ball sandwiched between those cozy sheets.  In fact, this may leave you only doing the things you need to do as opposed to the things you need and want to do simply because you are just too tired to do them. Get the sleep you need and feel ready to seize your youth!

  1. Health Risks

There are many types of health risks associated with lack of sleep including cardiovascular problems like hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and even an irregular heartbeat. In addition, skipping out on those hours can alter your body’s immune function which can, in turn, modify the body’s natural killer cells. This can call for a more vulnerable body making you more susceptible to infection and sickness. Enough sleep has also been linked with cancer prevention.

Living by that “YOLO” motto can definitely have its pros, but just remember that ignoring sleeping needs can put your psychological, emotional, and physical health at risk and maybe working on time management can help you receive the adequate amount of it. It is important that you put sleep on your list of daily priorities until you find it utterly “unthinkable” to miss out on it. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” you may think, but think again, my friends! Skipping out on sleep may just stop you from doing the things you love and need to do in life!

Image: Tandem Properties

EducationSkills

Finals are among us. For those in college, this means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming. For those in high school, this also means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming… There’s just so much to do! Homework, extra credit, paper outlines, group projects. Besides that, part time jobs, internships, after school activities. And before all of those, sleeping and eating! There’s a lot that seems to be happening right now, but there are some ways to deal with all the havoc that is December!

Prioritize.

Always do what you need to do first. Which one comes first: the big thesis paper or that extra credit project? Watering your plants or giving yourself a shower? Going to a club meeting or studying for an exam for that really tough teacher? Always do what is important, and don’t bother with the small stuff during this time crunch. The little things can be slipped in, but devoting large chunks of time to a 10 page paper is an efficient way of getting ideas out, onto a document, and out of the way. The little things you can do as mini breaks in between. Get up to stretch and do a 10 minute yoga pose for exercise, but do this between paragraph four and five of your essay. Moderate and prioritize.

Eat and sleep.

My university’s labs are open 24 hours during finals. In the early 3­-5am hours, students can be seen sleeping at their desk with the screen doing a five hour export. Other students can be seen with three empty cups of coffee next to their sewing machines with half finished shirts and dresses. But whether you’re in art school, business school, or high school, you need to get your sleep and your nutrients! You and a friend can do food­runs. Someone runs out to get dinner for both of you, then you trade and do the same for lunch. Do this for fabric material, photo paper, paint, ink, printer paper. One person can do that half-hour-run to Staples and the other person can do that half-hour run to the cafeteria. Roommates, workshop partners, lab buddies, you name it. It is the time to keep your body functioning during a time when there isn’t enough time.

Know your limits.

Alright. You didn’t sleep in the last 24 hours, and the night before, you only slept
three hours. Your hands are shaking from too much caffeine, and for some reason the words on the
screen are starting to move on their own. You have a dull headache that has turned into nauseousness and your neck is cramped. You haven’t seen daylight in two days. It’s time to stop. Yeah, that presentation is important and people are counting on you. Sure, that exam is 50% of your grade. But what’s the point if you’re going to pass out in front of your professor or wake up to the exam sheet stuck to your cheek? Sometimes enough is enough and there’s only so much you can do. That’s when you take a breather, take a walk, take a shower, take a break.

Dealing with everything is crazy. You and everyone around you are in high gear. Once
you figure out all you need to do, you’ll do them. Keep yourself going with enough sleep and
food. Sometimes, you have to just put everything down. Take it easy and good luck!

Image: TMAB2003

Education

Getting back into college mode is hard after a break. While Thanksgiving break wasn’t that long, it was enough time for me to get used to doing nothing but sitting around the house all day, watching movies, and eating delicious food. When it was time for me to leave home, a part of me wanted to stay and start my career as a full-time couch potato. Since that really wasn’t an option, I had no choice but to come back to school. Now that I’m here, the only thing I want to do is be lazy and not do homework or study for finals. It doesn’t help that our next big break is just around the corner.

It’s seriously all I can think about. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am excited to be able to laze about and spend time with family for more than a week. Since it’s the end of the semester, there won’t be any homework or group projects to work on. We will no longer have to worry about studying for quizzes or final exams. We’ll be home free! I know you’re getting starry eyed just thinking about it but don’t let yourself slack off just because we’re almost at the end.

You owe it to yourself to end this semester off strong. Treat your finals like every other test you’ve had thus far and put in the time to make sure you are as prepared as can be for your exams. It’s okay if you had a rough start to the semester. It’s okay if you’re tired. It’s okay if all you want to do is go home and forget about this thing called college for a little bit. I understand how all of you are feeling right now, which is why I am here to tell you to keep pushing. You might’ve had a rough start, but ending strong can make up for that. You might be tired and just want to go home, but your break will be so much more rewarding if you give your finals your all. Not only will you feel great for pushing through, but your grades will reflect your hard work as well. A runner wouldn’t give up or slow down when the finish line is in view. Well, finals week is our finish line. So pretend that you’re that runner. Push yourself to do better and work harder than ever so that you can come out a winner.

Losing momentum is the worse thing you can do to yourself. If you feel yourself wanting to give up, just remember that you can get through this. It doesn’t matter if this is your first semester of college or your fifth. We all need a pep talk during this time of the year. We all need to be reminded that we are brilliant and amazing and we can achieve anything as long as we work for it. So work for that gold medal. Do your best to ace your exams and even if you don’t do your best on an exam you gave your all, just remember that you did the best that you could and really that’s all you can do.

If you want to win a chance to be lazy during Winter break, then earn it by putting a lot more effort and hard work into finishing this race out strong.

You can do it. I believe in you!

Image: Anne

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Every year a handful of students are accepted to the George Washington University’s Seven-Year B.A./M.D. Program. What that means is that seniors in high school who know that they want to attend medical school after earning their undergraduate degrees apply to this highly selective program and earn both degrees in a shortened period of time. We know, it’s pretty crazy-impressive. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Payette, a member of this program, recent GWU undergrad alum, and current first year GWU Medical School student. He gave us the low-down on what it takes to get academic work done while balancing work responsibilities and personal time. While it’s no easy feat, Chris somehow manages it all and does it with a genuine smile on his face. From sharing his successful-study-secrets to details about his semester abroad in South Africa, Chris is without a doubt seizing his youth and making the most of every opportunity.

Name: Chris Payette
Age: 21
Education: B.S. from the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences | The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Follow: LinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Chris Payette: Doing whatever you need to do right now that will set you up to be doing what you want to be doing later, whether it’s in the immediate now or in the future. So for me I think it’s much more for the future. Obviously right now I don’t necessarily want to be spending all of my time in the library studying, but – and I know this might sound slightly morbid – it’s a means to an end.

And also to make time for yourself and your friends and family. When you’re trying to make things the best for you, sometimes you don’t necessarily think about the whole picture, and other people’s happiness. But I think that it’s important to make time for the people you care about.

CJ: You knew from a young age that you wanted to study medicine, but what would you say to someone who doesn’t know what his or her passion is yet?

CP: Do everything. I do everything and it’s interesting because even though I’m in medical school I feel like there are so many other things I could do and be totally happy with. And it’s nice to know that even though I have a set path, there are so many other things I would be super happy to do. I’ve worked at restaurants for a while now, and I know that if anything ever happened with the medical stuff I would be happy waiting tables. I think that not having a diverse experience limits you. By trying a little bit of everything you can find what you like, and if you don’t know yet then you should keep trying everything.

CJ: What tools do you use to keep yourself organized and on track?

CP: Notability. iCalendar. Honestly so many. I try to reevaluate where I’m at and where I need to be at the end of every day, just so I can know where I am for the week, where I am for the month, where I am for my next exam, where I am for the next social event I want to go to. For example if I have a lot of friends in town and I know that I’ll want to set aside Saturday and Sunday to just see people, I’ll do extra schoolwork during the week based on how my overall schedule looks.

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CJ: How do you prepare for medical school exams?

CP: First I go through all of my lecture notes individually. I compile all of the “learning objectives” from each lecture and sort them into files based on what I think would be best to study together. Then I go through each learning objective and I add in everything pertinent from the lecture into one lengthy document. I include images as well. I go back to that document about two weeks before an exam and transcribe that onto one hand-written page. That page is what I use up until the exam to study – I really condense the information.

I use so many tools for this process – my suite of Microsoft tools, my Apple tools, my favorite Sharpie fine point pens and white printer paper. I just started using this system in med school and it’s been going really well. It’s good because it makes me first synthesize the data, and then condense it and get the most important pieces from it. That study sheet is when I really have to master the material, because one sheet can take one to two hours to make. A lot of it is just planning.

CJ: You went into college knowing that you would also be going to medical school – did you ever have moments of panic/anxiety about that decision? How did you overcome that?

CP: I get really excited about things. So there will be times when I get excited about one thing and think “I want to pursue that! That should be my job!” And knowing that it wouldn’t be, since I was already accepted into medical school, was weird sometimes. I went into high school in a magnet science program, so basically by eighth grade I was already committing to medicine. Which is good because I’ve always known that this would be my path, but it’s also challenging to think that in undergrad had I not already been accepted to medical school, might my path have totally changed?

I think for me personally it’s good that I have that structure, and I think that at the same time it gave me the freedom to have those moments of exploring other things because I knew that once I was in medical school I would have required responsibilities. So for example my research in undergrad was totally unrelated to medicine, my jobs were unrelated to medicine, volunteering was not clinical at all. I didn’t do one clinical thing at all in undergrad. So I had that time and ability to purposefully explore while I had the opportunity.

CJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

CP: Wow, I don’t know. That’s tough. One big thing that has always stuck with me is that my dad always tells me that regardless of being on the medical track, I can still do whatever I want. I think that a lot of people are pushed in one way by their parents, but my parents’ professions are not medically related at all. So it’s nice knowing that if at any time I don’t want to do what I’m doing anymore, hearing that out loud from my parents has helped me feel a little bit freer. Just knowing that I can pursue whatever I want in my career has been very comforting.

CJ: What advice would you give to a freshman starting the same 7-year program you are part of?

CP: Do everything that you want to do. You’re already accepted to medical school, you have your future laid out, so right now is your time to travel and see your friends and family. It’s your time to make art, go outside, be able to do stupid things and ask for guidance. That’s another thing – not that there’s no guidance when you graduate, but when you’re in undergrad there are built-in systems of support to hold your hand and help you get through college. So seek help, get mentors. There are no office hours when you graduate. The only office you’ll get to go to once you graduate is your boss’.

CJ: How did you get involved with Street Sense as in intern?

CP: I took a lot of service learning course at GWU because one of the things that’s expected of you going into the medical field is to always have volunteer experience. I like doing service learning because it’s was a really easy way to integrate that into my life and schedule. During my last year of undergrad I took an urban sociology class and that’s how I got connected with Street Sense. From there we created a role where I was in charge of social media. So I worked not only with the people who sell the newspaper, but also with the administrative back end. I really liked it so I stayed a little bit longer after the semester ended and worked with them in a larger capacity. It was an amazing experience – you get to meet a lot of really interesting people when you’re working with the homeless community.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

CP: Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk.

CJ: Despite being in a shortened 3 year undergraduate program, you still made the time to study abroad in South Africa – what compelled you to make the choice and how has it influenced you?

CP: I went to South Africa the summer after I did a GWU orientation program. The summer had been a lot of DC and a lot of GWU. It just felt like too much. I needed to spend the semester away, so I applied to go abroad. And I decided very last minute – my parents mailed me my passport the week before applications were due. I really just needed a semester away to experience somewhere different and travel without doing it during the summer. I followed my instinct to go somewhere. I would go back in a heartbeat – I’m already trying. Certain programs at my school require you to travel and work abroad, so I definitely think ill go back at some point.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

CP: It depends. My schedule varies day to day because of classes. Some days I’ll go to class at 8AM and end around 6PM, even 8PM. Other days I have independent study so I’ll wake up, make a cup of coffee, sit in my living rom and study. I’ll usually stay after class in the library most days just to do a little extra. I also work at Cove because I can get work done, and at a restaurant some nights. I try to have most of what I’m doing planned out a few weeks in advanced.

CJ: What advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

CP: Start exercising now, because when you’re 21 your metabolism will stop. And also do whatever you want. But seriously, exercise. I took a health class freshman year and one of our assignments was to make a behavior change. Mine was to start running, and I’ve been running ever since.

Chris Payette Qs

Culture

The end of every semester is riddled with exams and final projects that make your head ache and your heart race as you reach for your aspired grades. However, non-stop studying can prove to be detrimental to retaining information. So taking 10-15 minutes out of your studying session to catch up on the news and cat videos is perfectly fine. And just so you have a chance to take a break, here are the three wackiest, most ridiculous bits of news for you to peruse:

1. Murderer Charles Manson Is Getting Married and Most Of Us Are Still Single

According to the Associated Press, on November 7 Manson and his 26-year-old girlfriend Afton Elaine Burton were issued a marriage license. They will have to get before February or else the couple will have to reapply for another license. Burton professes to love Manson, who is convicted of multiple murders, and moved from her Midwestern hometown at the age of 19 to be closer to him. So while you are studying for your classes, the “Helter-Skelter,” conspiracy ridden Manson is planning his impending nuptials; it’s a strange world.

2. Beyoncé’s Sister Gives A Shout-Out To Benadryl

Now I put this on the list purely because I am surprised that this is even news, but apparently between Solange Knowles wedding ceremony and reception she broke out in hives. Benadryl seemed to cure this breakout and the festivities were back on. Knowles even posted an adorable picture of her and new husband dancing at the reception. Moral of the story: celebrities aren’t perfect and Benadryl is magic.

3. E-Smokers Rejoice As ‘Vape’ Is Chosen As the Word of 2014

Out of all the words in the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary chose ‘vape’ as the word of 2014. This spawned tons of tweets from e-smokers and vapor enthusiasts alike to tweet their delight in learning that their own movement of vaping has left a mark. This was a long time coming seeing that although ‘vape’ was added to the online site this year, electronic cigarettes have been around since the 1960’s and an estimated 4 million American’s now use the product.

Good luck studying!

Image: Aleksi Tappura

EducationSkills

November is the start of many things: cold weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the holidays. However, while department store managers and baristas at Starbucks are preparing for the season, students are preparing for a different beast entirely. Exams are what shortly follow the month of November, so this month is a vital one in getting a few last good grades in before finals.

If you are one of the unlucky souls in desperate need of a few more A’s in a class, here are some ways to study for upcoming tests and exams:

1. Clear your mind and avoid multitasking

Cluttering your mind with other issues is probably one of the worst ways to study; in order to retain information you need to focus on that specific subject. Thus, multitasking is a terrible idea when studying. You do not need to have tabs open for other classes or for Facebook. Actually, if you have trouble with controlling yourself in terms of social media, websites like Cold Turkey is an amazing way to block social media temporarily, allowing yourself time to focus on studying.

2. Drink water and snack healthily

When studying, drinking water and eating healthy can play a vital role in retaining information. For example, eating slow carbohydrates, such as nuts, will give you a steady stream of energy and release of serotonin to keep you up and happy while studying. Whereas if you were to consume energy-infused foods and drinks, you will have a temporary rush of energy, but any information looked at during the crash will be lost to the intense desire to sleep. Also, prepare your snacks ahead of time to avoid wandering from the desk – you might never get back to studying.

3. Chew mint gum when studying and when testing

Psychologists have found that chewing mint gum while studying and testing correlates positively with good test scores. It allows your brain to make connections and help you remember retained information better. Therefore, it might be to your benefit to chew a stick of mint gum while studying for you next test and during the test itself.

4. Break up your study sessions, DO NOT CRAM!

MIT’s website shows that cramming can actually cause you to lose information and that the best way to study is in 20-50 minute intervals and to take 5-10 minute breaks in between these intervals. This allows your brain to absorb the information you just read without being overwhelmed.

5. If you are going to listen to music while studying, make it classical or instrumental

Everyone knows of the idea that playing classical music to an infant can increase the child’s potentiality of intelligence, and this idea still applies to students and young adults today. Studies show that classical music increases cognition and helps to remember data and material. However, classical music is not digestible by everyone. Hence, listen to some instrumental music, but make sure that it is instrumental music you are familiar with; if I try to listen to new music when I study, I get too distracted by the new melody and lyrics that I am listening to.

What are your best study tips?

Image: Anita Hart

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we met food editor Laura Shunk for her Professional Spotlight, it was over breakfast (naturally). While enjoying eggs and toast, we discussed studying abroad, being a food writer, and being on the board of New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Having studied International Relations at Claremont McKenna College, Laura is smart, thoughtful, and passionate about her career and involvements. We love Laura’s outlook about post-college years being a skill gathering time, and if you’re a student, take notes on the top three traits she looks for in interns. For a more in-depth look at Laura’s life, great advice, and to learn how she got to where she is today, read on!

Name: Laura Shunk
Age: 28
Education: International Relations major at Claremont McKenna College
Follow: Fork in the Road – Village Voice / Twitter / New York City Coalition Against Hunger

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Laura Shunk: I don’t know if there’s one good way to describe it or way to answer that. I think about how to seize any time in your life and it’s engaging in things that you care about and you feel invested in for whatever reason, whether that’s because you’re helping a cause you’re interested in or enriching your own life and knowledge and setting yourself up for future success.

CJ: What did you major in at Claremont McKenna College and how did you determine what to study?

LS: I was an International Relations major. Before I was an International Relations major, I was an Economics major, a Government major, a Literature major, a Biology major – I probably changed my major about 10 times. I ultimately settled on International Relations because it was the only major that required you to study abroad and I really wanted to have the opportunity to do that. It ended up being a great major.

CJ: Where did you study abroad and what was your big takeaway?

LS: I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I learned Spanish, so that was a very tangible takeaway. I spoke it fluently after that. Study abroad isn’t necessarily about the classes you take or what you study, it’s more about seeing a different culture. I studied development theory in college and I had never seen it applied in real life, and I spent the summers in parts of Latin America in poor communities, but I had never understood what it meant to be in a developing country and Argentina put such a vivid experience to that. A broader understanding of the world and understanding that other places in the world aren’t just like here and that people are great everywhere.

CJ: Are you happy you went out-of-state for college?

LS: Yes, I highly recommend it. My parents told me when I was getting ready to go to college, “Go out of state because you can always come back.” That was the best advice anyone ever gave me.

CJ: Where did you intern and how did you go about securing those internships?

LS: My only internship was at Chipotle, which I had throughout college, in their corporation headquarters. I was part of the culture and language program, so we were writing and managing programs that helped employees learn English, which helps them advance in restaurants. It was an amazing internship, it ended up being so hands-on and I secured it by working my network. I knew I wanted to do something that used my Spanish and do something in the business world and I was interested in food, but I wasn’t quite sure how to put the two together. I knew people at Chipotle and asked about internships and they pointed me to the right place.

CJ: You are a Food Editor at Village Voice Media. What does being a Food Editor mean?

LS: On a job responsibility level, I manage the division of a section, I assign stories, I edit stories, and I keep the online part of the food coverage of the Voice and the paper moving in the direction I think it should be moving.

CJ: What makes a good food writer? Is it traveling and eating, or is it eating a lot?

LS: It can be a lot of things. There are a lot of different kinds of food writers. The best food writers have a unique angle of some sort. They could have traveled and bring a cultural awareness to the food that they’re eating or writing about. They could really love the human story behind foods. They could love the environmental factors or the experience. There are a lot of ways to be a food writer.

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CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

LS: I wake up, drink a lot of coffee, spend the first four hours of my day editing and writing and getting our blog set for the day, and then I spend the second half of my day interviewing, talking to people, strategizing, and transcribing. There is also a lot of eating involved. I am out to dinner every night and out to lunch a lot. Sometimes I’ll have two dinners.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a Food Editor do now to set themselves up for success?

LS: Write. That would be the first thing. Writing is a skill that no matter how naturally good at it you are, you get better as you do it more. And find a good editor because that helps a ton. Start a blog. With the direction media is going, get good at social media, photography, and film. In that same vein, a good food writer has a unique angle – learn something in the food world better than anyone else knows it and you’ll be the go-to person for that topic.

CJ: In addition to being a Food Editor, you are active with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. How are you involved and why do you believe in their mission?

LS: I sit on the board, which means we meet and hear about the day-to-day of the organization, we help with fundraising, and we help with higher level strategy decisions. The board provides overall strategic direction and fundraising help.

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger works with and on behalf of food pantries around New York. Instead of just helping soup kitchens fulfill their duty, we work on changing the rules of the system. We are focused on fixing the problem as opposed to just putting a Band-Aid on it. Being in the food industry, fixing the problem is important to me.

CJ: If you were hiring an intern, what are the top three traits that you would look for?

LS: Eagerness. The best intern I had was eager and never said no. That’s a big one. A certain level of maturity and self-awareness. Be able to take direction and accept that somebody might have something to teach you. Communication is also important, especially today, you’ve got to be a good communicator.

CJ: You’ve been out of school for seven years. How did you transition from college life to “the real world?”

LS: I approached post-college as a skill gathering time. I looked at it as a time to do a lot of different things, and I ignored people around me telling me I had to have a career where I was moving up. I didn’t buy it. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it worked out on my end. Being flexible is important. I moved from L.A. to Denver, went to New York, back to Denver, and then back to New York. Some years were harder than others. The year I quit my consulting job and was working for a quarter of the salary waiting tables I would think, what did I do? That’s when I would think that I wasn’t transitioning well post-college. But it’s all temporary and things work out. If I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

CJ: What activities were you involved in throughout high school and college? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

LS: In high school, I was the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, I was on the mock trial team, I was on the golf team – but I’m pretty sure I only did that to get out of gym – and I was a girl scout. That was meaningful not so much from the organizational perspective, but because I did a lot of community service, which was very rewarding and momentous.

In college, I did different things such as Model EU and a foreign affairs club because I got to travel. At Claremont McKenna, I helped design a curriculum that helped staff, such as janitors, to learn English. We would tutor them one-on-one, and that was rewarding.

CJ: What motivates you in your everyday life – at the office and/or during your down/personal time?

LS: I think a lot about making an impact. Going back to what I said about seizing your youth, feeling engaged is huge. I worked a lot of jobs where I didn’t feel engaged. I feel engaged now and I feel compelled to continue to dig in and I want to feel that way forever about what I’m doing. I’d like to do something that impacts my community in a positive way.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

LS: Recently: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

CJ: Who is your role model?

LS: I’m pretty lucky to have a lot of role models. I had an editor in Denver who I would consider a role model. Still one of the greatest editors I’ve ever worked with. She taught me a lot about the business, and she is one of those people whose impact on me is something I hope to have on others.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LS: Don’t worry about it when you feel uncomfortable. You’re going to have times where you are unsure if you can pay a bill or if you’re going to be fired. These things will happen and it is part of it and it is fine and it usually works out. Try to enjoy it and try not to get caught up in others telling you what to do or how to feel.

Education

Autumn has finally rolled around, which means that in addition to leaves, sweaters, and the smell of cinnamon and maple in every coffee shop, we are also about to be hit with hard deadlines, stacks of work, and plenty of assignments with overlapping due dates. That calls for a playlist that can get you settled in and ready to accomplish your looming tasks.

If you’re anything like me, you like to get work done in different kinds of environments. Sometimes I need complete silence, other times I perform well when there’s a miscellaneous ambiance of strangers, and once in a while I like to throw in some headphones and mark off my to-do list with the help of an awesome playlist.

The playlist below has been carefully curated by yours truly (but I won’t be offended if you switch out or remove any of these selections). I like these tunes because they all have a steady but upbeat vibe, and flow together well when I don’t want to be distracted by the sudden jolt of a Top 40-get-up-and-dance jam.

(Click on the photo to view in full screen.)

workplaylistcarpe

Good luck with your exams, papers, deadlines, and meetings this season. You’re doing amazing things!

For more daily inspiration, follow Carpe on Twitter. See you there!

Image: Death to the Stock Photo

Culture

When I moved to Washington, D.C. eight months ago for a Capitol Hill internship in a Senator’s office, my mom told me I should keep my options open and that I could stay for the summer if the opportunity arose. I immediately pushed the idea aside. I had a job as a summer teller at a credit union waiting for me at home in upstate New York. It paid pretty well, wasn’t stressful, and I liked my coworkers. I couldn’t see giving up a sure thing. Plus, I had just finished a semester abroad in Denmark and I figured that by the end of the semester I would be more than ready to just have a relaxing “last summer at home before I graduate from college.”

Less than a month later I had been asked to stay and work in the Senator’s campaign office after my official Hill internship ended in May.

I definitely struggled with this choice, although almost all the outside advice that I got was to go for it. Ultimately, I listened to those voices and felt that I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to continue working on issues that interest me and for a person who I believe in. The opportunity to beef up my resume sweetened the deal.

Ultimately, once this opportunity arose I knew it wouldn’t be smart to turn it down. I can say for sure that I don’t want to be a bank teller “when I grow up.” I don’t know exactly what I what I want to be, but I do know that my time in our nation’s capital inspired me to want more for myself and I felt like I fit. For the first time I was surrounded by other people my age that wanted to talk about politics, or what was going on in the world, or what made us happy or mad or sad. Our elected officials, even in the midst of the “do-nothing congress,” inspired me, and I had the opportunity to see them in person, passionately speaking on important issues in hearings or on the Senate floor. I rode in an elevator with John McCain and I ran into Barbara Boxer struggling with her luggage at Union Station. For a political science nerd like myself, it was heaven.

hannah cohen CJ pic 1

My experience had low points as well. At the end of the spring semester, most of the amazing friends that I made left for the summer. Some of the new-ness of the experience wore off and reality set in. I decided that I wanted to come back to DC after I graduate in December, but I started to realize how many amazing, smart, talented people have the same plan that I do. It is definitely not going to be easy to move back to a city where I don’t know many people and try to start a life. The blueprint I have in my head for that life is definitely blurrier now than it was in March or April.

Here’s what I know: I’m going to give it a shot. The past eight months have been an experiment in stepping outside of my comfort zone. This is not something I have been historically known to do, but I decided it was time for me to make a little bit of an effort. I have also had to stop and cut myself some slack and remember that I am only twenty years old and I have time to figure things out. There have been moments where I have been so uncomfortable or nervous that I wanted to quit, but I have gotten through those moments and I am proud of myself for that. So that is the headspace I am trying to maintain. A lot of smart people have told me to have a plan, but to be flexible, because life is an unpredictable beast. As I start my last semester as an undergrad and make plans for afterwards, I am keeping that in mind.