Author Archives: Holly Brenza

It’s so cold!

Is anyone else as freezing as I am?! When is it going to warm up?

I officially have the winter blues and am absolutely over this. Walking to BSB twice a day from my room is getting really old really fast, and I’ve been staying inside the building for entire days at a time when I don’t have class. The weekends have been filled with wasting time and feeling my cabin fever get worse and worse. I don’t know about you, but I need to do something about this before I go crazy…I need to be more productive so that when the time actually comes for us to go outside and enjoy the weather, I can. Here are my goals/ideas for making the most out of being stuck inside:

-read books (not just textbooks…good books, too!)

-redecorate your room by moving furniture around/add small accents

-go through your closet and look for clothes to donate

-craft! There’s nothing like a good old DIY

-watch a new tv series or movie genre

-make Valentines for your friends/family

-plan spring/summer trips or vacations

-learn a new instrument

-get completely caught up with your homework and studying

-get ahead on your studying ;)

-deep clean/spring clean your room in the winter!

-drink tea or hot chocolate or coffee- and lots of it! At some point later in the year, these hot drinks will sound gross.

-work out in your room! There are lots of household spaces and items that are great for a workout.

-try on your bathing suit

-cook/bake new recipes and try them out on me!

-learn to do something productive with your computer

-apply for jobs/internships online

-enjoy a nap under a nice, warm blanket

Stay warm! Until next week…

What am I doing?!

12 hours.

That’s it. That’s how many credit hours I took this semester.

So why do I feel just as (if not more) stressed out as last semester?

That is by far the least amount of credit hours I have taken on my 6 semesters here. The first semester of my freshman year, I took 14 credit hours and didn’t have many other responsibilities besides academics.

12 credits leaves me with three classes each Tuesday & Thursday. I am hoping to start my internship within the next couple of weeks, so I will be there Mondays and Wednesdays (so excited!)

Regardless of the large amount of time spent not in class, I am still desperate for a break to relax. You’d think I’d have a lot of it, but I feel like I’m always on the go.

I’ve been trying to figure out what is eating up all of my time, or at least what is so time consuming RIGHT NOW………………

…………….I think the biggest thing is currently my returner portfolio. As a resident assistant, peer mentor, or any other Campus Housing student staff member who wishes to return to their position for the following year, we have to put together a portfolio of some sort. This showcases your efforts and successes during the year as well as features your ideas on what you would do differently next year. Having already made a scrapbook portfolio my first year applying to return, I wanted to do something different, so I made a movie. It’s been quite the challenge, but I’m really happy with the “finished” project. I turned it in earlier today and am impatiently awaiting my returner interview where I will show my video.

I’ve also been really busy with just overall more difficult classes than I am used to. I’m taking two 400-level courses, which is the highest I’ve ever had, and they’re pretty tough. It’s nice to be in such challenging classes, but it can, of course, be a little intimidating from time to time. I’m also starting to learn to code (in the absolute simplest form) for my Communications class. This is completely new to me, and I’m really hoping I can keep up with the assignments.

I’ve also been working really hard for my position on the executive board of NRHH- the National Residence Hall Honorary. We are a chapter comprised to the top 1% of student leaders, and the four pillars that we are held up by are leadership, service, recognition, and academics. I take care of the recognition aspect of the chapter, and I have been trying to take on a lot of new initiatives for the position. This can be a lot to do while being an RA, but I really love the chapter and working on the executive board.

NRHH E-board, along with their sister organization, RHA, are hosting a leadership retreat this weekend where we work to further develop younger student leaders’ skills. I will be giving the presentation that I did at CASCHA at this retreat, only with some changes made to fit the Disney theme (my favorite!).

Immediately after the conference (seriously-a half hour later) we are all heading over to the Flames basketball game to watch them play Valpo. I have word that the NRHH e-board as well as the RHA e-board are taking part (maybe even competing) in some sort of game during halftime.

The night before all of this craziness is my grandma’s surprise 90th birthday party. I’m really excited to see her reaction to all of her friends and family in one place for her big day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ll leave you with a picture of me and the new pooch:

Now, about that break…………………………

The craziest of weeks

It’s been one of those weeks, and it came out of nowhere. I don’t know what hit first, but everything has been moving so quickly over the past few days and I can’t seem to slow it down. I thought taking four classes this semester would lighten the load, but I still seem to have a million things to do. I’m glad I’m busy; it’s not like I would have it any other way.

On Monday, we gained a new member to our family. A brand new VERY young puppy came home. I only got to spend Monday with him, but I have plans to see him soon. He is absolutely crazy, playful, loving, and nameless… The parents are still working on naming our new friend. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time.

I’ve had a little bit of a hard time keeping my mind off of the new puppy. He’s just so incredibly cute! I’m so glad I got to be a part of the process this time. I got to hold him the entire car ride home, which was over an hour, not to mention the whole time we stopped at the pet store for toys and food.

 

One day this week my boyfriend and I are heading over to play with him. We bought him two new toys just in case we need to buy his love. I’m pretty sure that isn’t an issue, since he’s the sweetest and friendliest puppy I’ve ever met.

Later in the week, I needed to go through some medical testing for my internship at Rush. I have never gotten the flu shot since I have always been worried about the side effects and have always been convinced that I would get sick after. Flu shots are, of course, necessary when working/volunteering/interning at a hospital, so I had no choice but to get my first ever flu shot at 21 years old. It really wasn’t as bad as I always expected it would be. I realized that millions of people get the vaccine every winter/fall, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still terrified in the moment. I don’t even think I had any of the side effects from the shot. Within an hour or two, I was back in my bed laying down, saying I was too tired to get up. I’m still not exactly sure whether or not that had anything to do with the flu shot..

I’ve finally had the “first day of school” in every one of my courses at this point. Somehow, my books wound up being totally affordable this semester, which was a huge relief for myself and my wallet. With this stress and excitement comes the expectation that homework and assigned readings are completed. I’ve already been assigned a partner project and have begun submitting online homework a couple times a week. Its crazy how quickly school mode became full swing again. It’s nice to be back in classes (I can’t believe I feel that way.)

Despite all of the hecticness of the week, I managed to have a good one and hope you did, too!

 

10 things you didn’t know about me as a UIC student

1. My favorite place on campus (besides my room) is the green space between Stevenson Hall and UH. During warm weather, so many students lay in the grass or play sports there. It’s such a great space to relax in between classes or after a long day. I’ve been going there since my freshman year and still find it relaxing as ever.
2. I’ve lived in Campus Housing (to be specific, Courtyard) for the past 2 1/2 years. It has been great to have a place to call my second home on campus, and I love how close I am to all of my classes. Thanks to housing, I have met some amazing people and have had such a successful time academically. Even though there are many different buildings and different building options, I have strictly been in Courtyard since freshman move-in day, and I couldn’t have picked a better place for me to live.
3. I knew I wanted to go here since i was 11 years old. When we dropped my sister off at Commons West (one of the residence halls) on move-in day, I fell in love with the campus and the idea of going to school in the city. After years of visiting my sister and growing up, I found that my opinions on what college I wanted to attend were all only about UIC. My senior year of high school, I only applied to UIC, and I did this as early as possible. Then, out of a panic and fear of rejection, I applied to one another school as a “back up plan”. When I received the admission letter from UIC, I felt as though everything was falling into place, and I was right.
4. My favorite building to have class in is Douglas Hall. I love the views from the building (and, of course, the new construction). This building gives you a great view of the rest of the buildings on campus.
5. I had never been to the Art and Architecture Building until the last week of fall semester. As I’ve said a million times, I am an English major, so this isn’t that out of the ordinary, except for the fact that this building is nearly feet away from Campus Housing buildings, so I felt that this was something I needed to explore. While I was confused once inside the building, I loved the beauty inside of it, and the staircases leading to nowhere were fairly Harry Potter-esque. I suggest everyone explores this building during their time here.
6. I can navigate BSB with ease and have never been lost. I realize that there are running jokes about the building, long-running memes, and an agreement that the building is tricky to get around. However, in 2 1/2 years, I have managed to not only find my classes, but other classmates and friends’ classrooms as well. This is  challenge I am always willing to take on.
7. I’ve been in SEL even though I am an English major. I had to fill my LAS gen ed requirement, which meant I needed to take two science courses. I signed up for Phys 112, which had to do with astronomy. I was thrilled to have this class since I wanted to be an astronomer at an early age. Every week, I needed to navigate my way through SEL to get to my lab room.
8. I have seen the sunrise from multiple locations on campus. It is absolutely breathtaking to watch the sun come up over the city and to see the light reflecting off of the buildings. Because I take on so many responsibilities, I have had far more than my fair share of all-nighters, which often wrap up with a glimpse of the city as it is engulfed in a sea of light. No matter where you are, if you have a nice view of the city/skyline, the sun rising in the morning is something you should see.
9. I have taken 18 credit hours almost every semester that I have been here, and I am tired out. It is difficult to repeatedly take so many hours as well as hold so many responsibilities within Campus Housing and the university. Because of my overloading in previous semesters, I have been able to focus on my 12 hour course load as well as make time for my obligations.
10. I couldn’t imagine myself at any other school. After falling in love with such a traditionally different university, I knew UIC was the place for me. It is so different from other campuses, and this makes it such a unique place to study and live. Every day I am here I am reminded that I made the right choice in choosing UIC, and I am more than thankful for that.

14 ways to improve academically in 2014

Welcome back!

We’re officially in the first week of school. New classes, professors, and schedules allow us a prime opportunity to start anew and excel in our courses this semester. If your fall semester was a success, you’ll be continuing with your techniques and study habits. If it didn’t exactly go that well for you, now’s your chance to start over and get those A’s. Here’s how to make that happen.

1. Get enough sleep! Countless studies have shown that getting the correct amount of hours of sleep helps you to stay focused and do better. Instead of pulling countless all-nighters this semester, maximize your available time to ensure that you are sleeping around 8 hours a night.

2. Work on your time management skills. Notice I only said to work on this. Obviously, this isn’t something that can be changed overnight, let alone within one semester. Self control in any capacity is difficult. Try to get work finished before you complete other, more exciting activities.You’ll thank yourself down the road.

3. Eat healthier. Your brain and body function much better when you give them the nutrients they need (duh!) When doing homework or studying, snack on healthy alternatives like vegetables or fruits to sharpen your mind.Chances are you’ll notice an improvement over the semester.

4. Exercise. Even if you aren’t into working out, taking a little bit of time out of the week to clear your mind and focus solely on exercising is beneficial. Working out lowers your stress level and will make you feel better about yourself.

5. Read books. Read just one book if that’s all you have time for. Having alternative reading material to textbooks and your friends’ Facebook statuses will give your mind something else to use as a form of relaxation. Plus, reading totally makes you a smarter person.

6. Make time for friends and family. Life without some type of social interaction isn’t life at all. Being with friends and family will help to make you less stressed out and will remind you of some of the most important things in life.

7. Read your textbooks. Whether you paid 5 cents for them on Amazon or $150 at the bookstore, it’s ridiculous to waste a resource that you paid for. Textbooks exist to facilitate our learning, so make sure you are reading them. They also almost always come with tons of studying tools throughout the book- use those, too!

8. Take notes unlike your usual way. I would say take notes, but I’m pretty sure every college student understands the importance of taking notes. Instead of starting another semester in the same exact way as every other one, switch things up; write your notes in a different way. Make sure they are still thorough and useful to you.

9. Write down tests and papers on a calendar (and actually look at it!) I can’t imagine life without my 4 calendars. Writing these assignments down along with appointments, important dates, and work schedules really help you keep your life on track. Instead of trying to remember everything, give that brain a rest and create a point of reference.

10. Study with a friend. Instead of studying in a group, which usually just turns into a large group of people talking to one another, pick one classmate or friend to study with. Chances are you’ll be more focused than you would be in a group setting, and you’ll get more out of the session.

11. Join an extracurricular. UIC has thousands of organizations for its students. Try to get involved in something if your schedule allows it. This will give you an outlet, help you meet other students, and sometimes even give you an opportunity to be in an organization facilitated by a professor.

12. Stay away from your bed. You should never study or do homework in or on your bed. Take it from me- it’s always trouble. Never have I ever been able to get my work done on my bed without getting distracted, tired, or overly comfortable, usually causing me to nap. Make yourself a study space somewhere, whether it’s your desk, a table, or the library.

13. Use UIC’s resources. If you need help, there are countless people willing to help you. Get that tutoring you’ve been wanting, go to the gym to clear your head, or get the counseling you’ve been putting off.

14. Have fun! I hope this is self-explanatory…

2013 at a glance

Even though I write here every week, I feel like I’m only ever giving you the smallest bit of information about my life. I’ve been blogging since October. The year was winding down, but much more was still in store for me in the last three months. 2013 was most definitely not the best year of my life; in fact, I would go so far as saying it was a highly unfavorable one for me. Regardless, there was still a lot of good in the year. Here’s a look at my year……

The beginning of 2013 wasn’t particularly eventful. I trucked along in my sophomore year as a first time resident assistant, learning to be both a better student and resident assistant. I finished the semester with another notification that I had made the LAS Dean’s List, making me one happy kid! I also won two awards at the Campus Housing Banquet- NRHH’s Commitment to Recognition Award (an award given to the NRHH chapter member who is most dedicated to the recognition pillar of NRHH) and Rookie of the Year (an award given to a first-year RA who has excelled.) I finished up my first year as an RA with a pocket full of tricks and lessons learned, ready to take on the challenge the coming semester. During finals week, a lifelong best friend of mine passed away. This was the absolute hardest point of my life, and I had an impossible time imagining life going on without her. Since her passing I think of her constantly, and so much reminds me of her. Because of this, I have thought so much about life in general and the purpose and significance of those given to us. Her passing is a huge part of the reason why I don’t look back on 2013 very fondly.

Much of summer 2013 was spent reminiscing about days past and visualizing my friend everywhere I looked back home. It was a quiet, often solemn summer. Luckily, I landed an incredible internship that took my mind elsewhere during the week. The internship was so fulfilling, and I loved every minute of it. I was finally able to realize that my career path is the right choice for me-such a great feeling. We spent the day at a White Sox game- a passion we share.My boyfriend and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary in first few weeks of break. In the beginning of the summer, I discovered a baby turtle in my backyard. It was far too small to take care of itself, so I spent the summer raising the hatchling. This was something I’ll never forget. It reminded me of the small miracles all around me in life. When it was time to go back to school, I passed the rapidly growing turtle on to the Chicago Herpetological Society. They plan to find the turtle a good home. A huge part of summer was watching the Blackhawks on the road to the Stanley Cup. My house is certainly a Hawks household, so we had a great time watching the games and attending the parade together. I finally got around to entering the world of Stephen King novels (I don’t know what I’ve been doing with my life…) This gave me some amazing reading material for the summer. My reading has been nearly stalled due to school since…. The end of summer brought about another terrible death. My boyfriend lost his grandma just days before his birthday. Having dated him since 2007, I had grown to become another of her grandchildren. Her passing was so difficult for me. She was the absolute sweetest and happiest person I have ever met.She was an absolute inspiration, constantly serving as a reminder of how to live life, even at 89 years old.

This fall and winter didn’t get any easier. I started my junior year, ignorantly welcoming my hardest semester yet. It was a total struggle for me to keep up with academics, my extra-curriculars, and my job, but I knew if I could get through Fall 2013, I could do just about anything. During this time, I survived my first (and it better be my last!) 8am class at UIC. This never got any easier for me as the semester went on. I attended and presented at a leadership conference-the most stressful thing I have ever done. I have successfully figured out my minors and am excelling at them. I finally entered the 21st century with a smartphone and am even almost understanding how to use it! I turned 21 years old in October and have been enjoying the perks ever since. I began blogging for IAMUIC, something I’ve wanted to do since I discovered the site my freshman year. This has been so wonderful, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. The following month, my boyfriend took me to see Paramore- one of the best experiences of my life. I got to see Wicked for a 3rd time. No words can accurately describe how happy this makes me. I cut 12 inches of hair off of my head over the course of the past 4 months and am never looking back. My whole world- my 11 year old dog- passed away over Thanksgiving break. I grew up with her and still feel lost without her by my side. Being at home for break has been so difficult, but I get signs that she is with us here all the time. I had the same surgery I have already had done again over winter break, and I am confident that this time will be different. My sister and mom took me along on their tradition of seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert- an amazing way to close out 2013. Such an incredible experience!

 

Overall, I am grateful for the blessings I have been given during 2013, and I am ever-mindful of the losses I and my loved ones have endured. 2014 is sure to bring about even more changes, and I am eager to share them with you along the way.

Realistic Resolutions?

It’s officially 2014! What a journey 2013 has been.

At the start of 2013, I put on a program for residents called something along the lines of “How to Make (and keep) New Year’s Resolutions.” I had tips and tricks on something I myself had never actually done. Somehow, I still felt justified by my position as a resident assistant to provide suggestions for how to make sure resolutions were followed. I gave out a sheet that had a column for 20 things to do during 2013 and another column for 13 things not to do during 2013. At the time, I looked at this as a really unique way to plan for the upcoming year. Everyone filled their sheet out and took it, maybe to put it up in their room as a constant reminder, maybe to shove in a drawer never to be seen again. Either way, I felt like I helped people think about how they wanted the year to go.

Sitting here a year later, I see things so much differently. Although this list may have been a great idea, it wasn’t THE idea. The way I see it now, it isn’t so much about setting goals for yourself to work out more often or to study “x” amount of hours per week; instead, thinking about the new year requires thinking about how you plan to remember it. We learn from failures, successes, experiences, losses, etc., not from trying to force ourselves to act a certain way or avoid desserts. This learning comes from remembering days gone by and previous choices made.

With this in mind, I recommend considering this technique. I’m not saying that we should all stop setting goals for ourselves in regard to health or fitness or social lives. What I mean is that we need to focus more on the time at hand and how to make the most out of it by an understanding of the past. Get a memory jar- have small slips of paper on hand in your room near your bed. At the end of a particularly interesting day (or every day) write something about the day that will help you recall it and place this in the jar. Don’t let yourself open the jar until the very end of 2014, or even 2015. This is a great way to look back on the entirety of the year. Include everything- not just happy times or successful moments.

If the memory jar isn’t for you, sit down by yourself or with a close friend/family member in front of a camera and talk freely about the year. Store the video for a year and pull it back out at the end of the year and for years to come.

Ideas like these give you a fun an sentimental way to look back on the year as well as to help you to welcome in the new year. Having these things to look back at will remind you of things in life that you may have forgotten. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t always need to make actual resolutions to prepare yourself for success during the upcoming year.

So no, I am not trying to steer you away from the traditional resolution. I think it is great to enter the calendar year with a goal in mind and your heart set on success. At the same time, I strongly advocate remembering the previous year in one way or another to make sure that you don’t let the years pass you by too quickly…whether or not this is possible, I still haven’t determined. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Next week we’ll take a look back at my 2013. Until then…

Fall 2013 Semester in Review

We’ve almost made it through 2013! We’ve sold our books, headed home for break, (hopefully) passed our classes with flying colors, and made plans for break. Now is definitely the time to look back on our stresses and successes in a positive way. Not to turn into a Lifetime movie or anything, but everything we’ve gone through in this past year has shaped us into the student, friend, family member, and individual we are today. What better way to think about how far we’ve come this semester than through the ever-relevant gif?

Every time the bus tracker said the 8 bus was due.

fun fact: about 2 out of 3 gifs in the “running gif” tag are this one

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When your professor told the class there wouldn’t be a final.

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Every time the cafeteria put out chocolate chip cookies.

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Every time you had to hear a student ask the professor something they already answered.

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Every time you walked into class to see someone sitting in “your” seat.

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When you studied for 16 hours straight and forget everything during the exam.

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Every time you did that awkward dance with someone on the sidewalk to get out of each other’s way.

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Every time you tried to cross Harrison Street…

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Every time you checked your grade on Blackboard.

Sweet mother of god!__________________________________________________

When you saw the remodeled Courtyard and were totally blown away.

I love everything about this gif

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When you started getting along with people in your classes.

I’ve never had any real friends.

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Every time you tried to navigate BSB.

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After you finished rocking your presentation.

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Every time you walked to class only to find out it was cancelled. 

This is just not acceptable.

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That time the teacher called on you and you blanked in front of the whole class.

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When your professor couldn’t get the projector to work.

I ain’t even mad.

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That time you found out you had to work the entire weekend.

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Every time you couldn’t keep up with your professor as they changed slides.

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When people stared at you because you were well-dressed in your 8am class.

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That moment you realized you got an A in your hardest class.

Congratulations on making it through 2013! Keep enjoying winter break and the holidays!

Gif source: http://thegiflibrary.tumblr.com/

When sickness strikes…

I will do anything to keep from getting sick, especially during the school year. I hide from someone the minute I suspect they have a cold. Even though I freak out about this all of the time, I seem to be the one to always get sick, and at the worst times. The weekend before my 21st birthday back in October, I caught the absolute worst, flu-like illness that kept me in bed for days and left me incessantly coughing on my birthday (and not amused at all).

I’ve been lucky enough to avoid getting sick again since then, but that just meant it was only a matter of time until it hit me hard. Leave it to my body to pick the best possible time to get mind-blowingingly sick- finals week.

This round of finals is my fifth in college, and as an English major, I’ve always had a lot of papers to complete and very few finals to study for. I took two Communications and two Management classes this semester, and for each of the classes, there was a final. I needed to study really hard for the finals, and I planned out how and when I would study for them the week before and the week of finals. Monday night, I came down with some miserable stomach-flu like illness, putting me out of commission the rest of the night and well into Thursday. Unfortunately, I had a final Wednesday, which I dragged myself to, despite not feeling nearly well enough prepared since I had been too sick to study for days. I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in bed. I finally felt almost 100% better Thursday night, which was conveniently time to study for my last and hardest exam. Even though I’m better now, that was definitely the hardest finals week I’ve been through.

Getting sick in college is a lot harder than getting sick when you’re younger (for many obvious reasons). The biggest thing is being on your own/without your mom or family to help you. This is especially annoying and sad when the remote is on the other side of the room or you want an extra blanket. It’s even worse when you need some soup or someone to check your temperature. This is where I’d say it’s alright to call in the reinforcements; in fact, I recommend getting someone to help you or bring you over what you need. I did what I could for myself, but by the second day, I was calling my boyfriend, asking him to drop off ginger ale. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help; being sick and needing an extra hand isn’t weakness. Everyone gets sick and it can be hard to manage everything on your own.

As always, make sure to get enough sleep when you’re sick. Resting was my saving grace this week. It was the only thing that helped me to feel better, and it even helped me to feel a lot better about finals. Getting sick in college may seem lonely or difficult, but the most important thing to do to get through it is to rest. Similarly, constantly drinking liquids is important. I knew I had to regulate my own liquid intake, which is something my mom would have a hand in when I used to get sick at home. Since I had to get up to pour my own drink from the fridge, I was aware of how much I was drinking.

It’s true-getting sick when you’re in college is tough. But the minute you get over that illlness, you feel even more independent than before. Make sure you are taking time for yourself, and if you are sick, rest, drink liquids, and eat right (do that always, anyways!) Here’s to feeling 100%!

Making the most out of break

Somehow, fall semester has crept past us and winter break is upon us. I’m not sure if I am happier to see this break than I am terrified that I only have three more semesters here. Before the new semester begins, we are lucky enough to have a month-long break to relax and renew ourselves before another stressful (and fun) semester. It’s important to make the absolute most out of your time off from school so that you return with a clear head and the feeling that you have accomplished more than just finishing a tv series and countless bags of chips. Here are some tips on how to get everything you want (and then some) from your winter break.

1. Write it down! Before break starts (or in the first few days) compile a list of things you want to accomplish. It doesn’t matter how random or specific your list is- as long as it is comprised of things you hope to get done over break, it works! With an actual list, you will be more capable of holding yourself accountable. Plus, you get that awesome feeling of checking or crossing something off of your list! You can also add to it throughout the month.

2. Set a sleep schedule. Your body functions its best and you feel the most rested when you are on a fairly regular sleeping schedule. Set this early in the semester and try to stick as close to it as possible for the duration of the break. This will help you have a more productive sleep (REM!) and will keep you feeling more refreshed than if you are staying up into the wee hours of the night and sleeping well into the next afternoon. The best part about a routine sleep schedule is the hours in the day that you get to spend awake. This will give you even more time to enjoy!

3. Connect with friends and family. Whether you haven’t seen your friends from home since the summer or you’ve been skipping out on sibling time, make it a point to restore these relationships over the holiday season. This is the perfect season for strengthening bonds. Don’t just make tentative plans- follow through with them. It’s important to incorporate quality time with your loved times as much as possible.

4. Remind yourself of the things you enjoy. During the academic year, we all have a tendency to let go of certain things we enjoy in order to succeed in school or focus on what we deem important. Our hobbies and favorite activities aren’t meant to be forgotten. Pick these things back up- whether it’s playing an instrument, crafting, or exercising. The more committed you become over break to give yourself time for the things you find happiness in, the more likely you are to carry this into the second semester.

5. Read! I’m not just saying this as an avid reader and English major. Reading is a great form of stress relief, a temporary escape from reality, and a way to sharpen your brain. Even if you’ve never enjoyed reading in the past, take some time to look into what genre you would enjoy. No matter what, give it another chance.

6. Breathe. It’s so easy to forget to stop, relax, and take in the world around you. Take the month to do just that. Look outside the window. Take a walk around the city. Watch one snowflake fall all the way to the ground. You’ll be reminded how special life is.

Above all else, enjoy break in your own unique way. Before we know it, we’ll be back at UIC working through another semester. Have a great time off! Until next time.

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