First Semester Survival Guide

TZ campus webIt’s that time of the season where the weeks are winding down and winter break is approaching. However, this is usually the time when everyone begins to stress about their assignments and cram for exams. As a freshman here at Juniata College, I was nervous about the college workload and my problems with procrastination taking a toll on my academics. Yet this semester I have managed to remain calm and organized with my schoolwork, which was a very pleasant surprise. I’d like to share my tips for managing assignments and reducing stress, while still being able to enjoy the semester!

Make a to-do list

I love being organized (color coding is really helpful!) and sometimes things tend to slip my mind. I like to take large sticky notes or pieces of paper and write out every assignment that is due that week, along with the due date and how long I plan to spend on each assignment. This way, I can get everything out of my head and on paper, and I can see potentially how much time I need to spend to complete my work.

Take breaks

It’s completely unrealistic to stay in your dorm room for nine hours straight writing an essay. People definitely do that, but I would not recommend it. Your brain can only focus on academics for so long. I like to set a timer, and work for a limited amount of time before I close my computer and do something else. For a distraction, I will watch an episode of my favorite show on Netflix, go to the gym, or go for a drive with my roommate. After a half hour or hour break, I will then return to my assignment, or work on a different class. I also really enjoy yoga because it’s physical and relaxing at the same time.

Playlists

I cannot function if I’m not listening to music. A lot of people I know can’t focus with music; so if that is the case for you, continue your work in silence. A website I enjoy using is 8tracks.com, which has thousands of personalized playlists you can listen to. You can choose moods or activities that customize a playlist for you. When working, I like to listen to indie calm study playlists, but with this website you can listen to anything you want! I just know that music really helps me focus when I’m stressed or trying to work on big assignments.

Courses

One of the most important things regarding work is the classes you take. One of my favorite things about Juniata is the large number of classes, varying in all departments that we are able to take. At some schools, you can only take classes relating to your major. At Juniata, professors and advisers want us to broaden our horizons and take different types of classes. Although Juniata does have requirements across all departments, there are so many options of courses to take! It’s really important to take classes that will interest you, so completing work for these classes isn’t impossible. Right now I am enrolled in courses that I am incredibly passionate about, so taking ten pages of notes isn’t difficult at all, since I am interest in the topic. Taking classes that you will enjoy will definitely make completing assignments easier.

I hope these tips helped pick courses and plan your time for the rest of the semester and for future terms! Keep on working!

 

This Week at Juniata Week 15

My Enthusiasm for Juniata’s Peace and Conflict Studies Department, Take 2

 

Juniata College recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Peace Chapel.

Juniata College recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Peace Chapel.

Within growing educational fields, I believe that the opportunity for rigorous research and discussion is absolutely vital. I have blogged in the past about my appreciation for the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) department here at Juniata College, and now from my senior vantage point, I think that it is important to mention a little something about research and how I have personally seen the department evolve. After all, an academic institution cannot remain static in its curriculum without falling behind in the ever-growing wealth of knowledge that exists in the world.

The field of Peace and Conflict studies is so exciting to me because its existence opens many, many doors when it comes to collaborative efforts towards peaceful campuses, societies, and interactions. As a Juniata student who has had the opportunity to work with the PACS faculty here, I feel lucky to understand that there are major shifts occurring in Conflict Resolution practice around the world. It is my belief that Juniata’s PACS representatives work hard to keep the curriculum extremely relevant to current work in the field. For example, this year Dr. Polly Walker has integrated a new course into the department’s repertoire that focuses entirely on the newer resources that are being developed for effective peace work. As a student in this new class, I feel as though the work is so important because it pulls us young, aspiring peace practitioners into the current dialogue of the field.

I could sing the praises of the PACS professors here for hours, but in the interest of maintaining a readable and coherent blog, I’ll restrain myself. I do want to add, though, that for anyone who wants to be actively involved in the current undertakings of the peace research world, Juniata has many resources. The work of the PACS initiative here at Juniata also spreads far beyond the Oller Center building on campus (where the department is located) and is working in exciting ways towards strengthening the fabric of our campus in a collaborative manner with other departments and the school’s administration.

My experience with the Peace and Conflict Studies department has helped shape who I am as a student and a person. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Tenting Essentials

CA tenting II edited

Every year, sometime between fall break and the beginning of December, dozens of students pitch tents on the pathway leading to Ellis Hall, competing for the best tickets for the Madrigal winter dance. The date of tenting is a secret until the students organizing tenting gather on the Ellis steps and blow air horns to signal the start of tenting. An email is then sent out to the entire student body stating that tenting has started and explaining the rules for tenting. The first tent to be pitched becomes “Head Tent” and the students in that tent are responsible for organizing events throughout the week and doing roll calls. Tenting is a popular, long-standing Juniata College tradition that is meant to be fun. Sometimes, though, it’s stressful, frustrating, or just not enjoyable. For anyone considering tenting next year, here are some essentials you should have (in addition to a tent):

A sense of humor

Head Tent will probably call roll at 3:30 in the morning, interrupting your precious REM sleep. You might play musical chairs at midnight. You will get very cold or, if you’re not so lucky, wet in the tent. I’m not trying to scare you away from tenting; rather, I’m saying that a sense of humor will help you get through tenting. You can get through it and you can have a good time with tenting, but you need to let the small things just roll off your shoulders.

Warm clothes

And when I say “warm,” I don’t just mean sweatshirts. I mean leggings, Under Armour, thick socks, hats, gloves, and other winter gear. Make sure you have multiples of all of these items, as well as sweatshirts and sweatpants because, chances are, you’ll be wearing several layers every night. While we’re talking about warm clothes, don’t forget about your sleeping arrangements. Heavy, warm blankets and a sleeping bag are extremely helpful.

Awesome talents

Chances are there will be a talent show of some kind during the week. It’s helpful if someone on your team (or several people) has a talent or, at the very least, can make something up. There are also lots of other challenges conducive to talents. This year, we had a rap battle, dance competition, cooking competition, and talent show. It seems that, if you don’t have a talent, all hope is not lost. As long as you’re willing to make a complete fool of yourself of 100 of your closest peers, you too can win the competition.

My tent that was home for a week with some of my closest friends.

My tent that was home for a week with some of my closest friends.

Friends

Whether they’re in your tent or laughing at the fact that you’re actually tenting, friends are the single greatest asset to an awesome tenting team. This seems obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway: make sure the people you tent with are close friends. Through all the stress of tenting week, it’s easy to get grumpy or frustrated with your tentmates or with tenting in general. If they’re close friends, it’s easier to repair the friendship or let the small stuff go (see #1). It’s also important to have friends who aren’t in your tent. When they’re not laughing at all the ridiculous stuff you have to do, they might just bring you late-night hot chocolate.

This Week at Juniata Week 11

The Mid-Semester Slump

My reading list for the rest of the semester.

My reading list for the rest of the semester.

Pretty much everyone on campus is feeling it to some extent: that stress and bump in the road that happens around this point of the semester. It’s a conglomeration of everything that’s going on. We’re past Fall Break with Thanksgiving Break right around the corner, midterms are over and finals are too far away to worry about, clubs and activities are in full swing, some students are working on campus, study abroad applications will be due soon, it’s getting colder, and we have the added excitement of tenting in preparation for Madrigal.

It’s nice to have a lot happening. College is a time to build relationships with friends and faculty, to spend time participating in extra curricular activities, and to think about the future. However, perhaps the most obvious part of college life is taking classes. At Juniata College, academics are serious and challenging. The professors expect a lot from their students because they are deeply invested in our educations and want us to receive a strong liberal arts education.

I’m immensely grateful for my opportunity to receive a liberal arts education at Juniata, but this is one of the times in the semester where college can get a bit rough. Juniata students always seem to be busy with something. It could be work, volunteering, practice, labs, research, or anything else that other students get involved with. There’s so much going on with classes, clubs, activities, and work that, at times, it’s hard to sit down and get homework done. Not because of an excess of work, but rather because of an excess of opportunities outside the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll never catch me complaining about reading a book for one of my English classes. Doing concept maps for my biology class is a different story.

We’re eleven weeks into the semester with only five more to go. As it gets closer to Thanksgiving and finals, we’ll work our way out of the slump and finish strong both inside and outside the classroom. Then next semester, we’ll do it all over again.

This Week at Juniata Week 10

Senior Day

Juniata College Field Hockey

Juniata College Field Hockey

It’s Senior Day for Juniata College Field Hockey. It is still weird to know that it is the last time for many things regarding my college career, including my athletic collegiate career. I have grown with this team for over 3 years and thinking to part with what my class has built within our time at Juniata makes me feel sad, but I can leave the team with confidence that the girls will continue to fight to be the best. These girls have become my second family, which provided me with the support system that I needed since my family is more than 16 hours away in Tampa, Florida. When I am down, I know that I have 25 other girls that will lift me up and that kind of support is one that helps you survive in your darkest times. Not many people can say that or experience that kind of love and friendship. So I regard myself as lucky to have this atmosphere every year.

Even though we all are all trying to find out who we are and shape our futures, there is one thing that will always connect us. Hockey.

Our team has struggled and fought to stay on top in the Landmark Conference every year, pushing each other to our limits to get better everyday. You may have friends that push you but for me there are 25 other girls pushing me to give it all that I have out on the field in practice and in games. The drive that any athlete has and the willingness to play with others to achieve a common goal is an inspiring story that is unique to each team. The joy and frustration from being on a team is complex, but it is something that will always stay with you after college. The relationships and memories that you make will be what you carry with you later in life. There is no end to JCFH because JCFH is family and family never goes away.
As much as I love my team, I am excited to have my mother here to support me on my special day. She will be cheering from the stands and probably yelling at the umpires for bad calls because she is still protective of her child. Thanks to her I started field hockey and was able to go to college. If it weren’t for her pushing me everyday, I would not be at Juniata playing field hockey with this energetic group of girls. I also wouldn’t have played with an amazing group of adults from different countries that would help me to develop into the player and person that I have come to be. Field hockey is not just a sport, it is more than that. It gives you a family and a fire to fight for what you want no matter what the odds. You learn to depend on others and to put your faith in them. It is not about the individual but what is best for the whole and overcoming hardships together. That is what field hockey is to me.

Am I Still Convinced That Juniata Was a Good Choice for Me?

I’ve found myself saying the phrase ‘Juniata is what you make of it’ a lot recently. It sounds like something I found on genericquotes.com : “Insert word here is what you make of it” (life, time, sweet potatoes, etc). So I questioned myself. Cliché phrases often don’t mean much once they’ve been dissected. But the more I think on it, the more certain I am that for me, my college experience has been what I’ve been able to make of it. And that is exactly why, when people ask me if going to Juniata has been worth it, my answer is a firm yes.

My reasons as to why are multi-faceted, but I will start with the fact that I will be graduating at the end of my 4-years with both an American and a French diploma. I understand that this is perhaps an accomplishment specific to my French POE, but I know for a fact that these kinds of extra achievements are not hard to come by at Juniata. If you are dedicated and passionate about what you study and your outside interests, you WILL find yourself involved in projects, trips and programs that you would not have encountered so directly at a bigger school.

Additionally, Central PA is beautiful.

Additionally, central Pennsylvania is beautiful.

I believe that an enormous catalyst for my experience has been the fact that my professors know me as Erika, an individual person, not just as a student. Juniata IS a small community in the grand scheme of things. If you participate in class (and most of the time, even if you don’t), it is inevitable that your professors will get to know you. They have worked hard with me to develop my skills as an independent thinker and intelligent human being. The connections that I have here with them will extend far beyond May of 2015 when I will graduate from Juniata.

Choosing to go to a private college or university is a scary, personal decision. It’s a financial undertaking and commitment to live the life of a student. Additionally, it requires confidence that your time will be fruitful and ultimately lead to better opportunities and connections. In my case, choosing to attend Juniata College was a choice that I will fervently stand behind and always be grateful for.

This Week At Juniata Week 9

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