Buckle down — the end is near

This week marks a month until the end of school. Crazy to think, huh?

I just made a schedule of assignments for the rest of the semester and although the amount of papers and studying I have to do is not as much as previous semesters, it is enough to make me feel overwhelmed. At this time of the semester, I always remember to breathe and just do. There is no point in getting anxious over the workload, as it has to and will be done anyways. What I’ve learned helps is just laying a schedule out and doing accordingly.

This past week, I registered for my last semester at UIC. As I registered, I felt strangely overwhelmed. You think it would be a liberating feeling, right? Not exactly. Post-grad life is all becoming real. I am not planning on attending graduate school, so now I have to begin worrying about landing a job. And once I land a job, I am daunted by how many opportunities I will have with a salary — my own place, a new car, anything! It’s like my life is going to drastically change in six months. It’s a bit scary, but I’m finding the excitement in it, too. I’m overwhelmed by how many ways my life can go after graduation, but also am excited by what can go right.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit overwhelming, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. While six months may seem a bit away, I know that if I buckle down and get to work, I will be having a sweet celebration as I conclude my last year of college.

It’s here!!!

Nothing to get all excited about.  I am talking about FLU SEASON.  It’s here and it’s here early.  Have you ever seen the movie “Contagion”?  Now, THAT is a scary movie.  One of the lines that Kate Winslet says, “The average person touches their face two to three thousand times a day.  Three to five times every waking minute. In between, we’re touching doorknobs, water fountains, elevator buttons and each other.” EEEK!

Back in October, my boyfriend, who works at a hospital, got his flu shot and URGED me to get mine.  “I will, I will,” I said.  As most of you know, I am surrounded by little germs all day.  And by germs, I mean children.  So, the flu shot is kind of a must for me.  The fact that people are getting it in early November, should be a sign that it’s going to be bad and it’s a must for you, too. Now, I know some people are against vaccines.  I mean, I can’t even remember the last time I got a flu shot before now.  I can be a big baby about needles.

A common myth is that getting the flu vaccine will give you the flu.  I always thought that as well.  My boyfriend claimed that as a myth and I looked into it.  According to the CDC, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu illness. If you get a flu shot, you will be getting one that has an INACTIVE flu virus, or no virus at all.  BUT some minor side effects could be soreness of where the shot was given, low-grade fever or aches.  But it CAN make you sick if you get the vaccine when you are already sick.  If you have a fever or on the mend from being sick, wait.  Getting the vaccine while your body is already fighting an illness, CAN make you feel worse.

Another important fact about getting the flu shot is not only does it lower your chances of getting the flu, but it also means that you cannot be a carrier of the illness.  Even if you don’t have flu symptoms, you can carry it to other people. Small children and people over 65 are the most at risk and should get a flu shot.  Everyone else can play the germ game all winter.

So, after my entire family got the flu this past week, I decided it was time to get the flu shot.  It was like the walking dead at my house.  Coughing, moaning and noses being blown in every part of the house.  Monday night, I only left my room to take shower.  The good part of that was I got a lot of stuff organized.  The bad part is I realized, “Wait a minute! Why am I the one quarantined to one room? THEY should have to stay in THEIR rooms.”  Well, by that time the house was already infected.  So, I decided to stayed at my boyfriends for a few days.  I did eventually have to go home to get a couple things but I wore this (thanks to my boyfriend).

Whether you decide to get the flu shot or not, you should always wash your hands after touching doorknobs, touching money, before and after you eat, and especially if you come in contact with someone who is sick, etc.

UIC’s Wellness Center has some further information: 

Stay well my friends!

Are you registration ready?

It’s time again to pick our classes for the upcoming semester!

I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that yet another semester is passing us by; it’s already November! Where has this school year gone? All shock aside, the time to decide what classes are in our future has arrived, whether or not we’re all ready for it. I know some people have their entire college careers planned out the moment they step foot on campus and others are “winging it” as each new semester arrives. Regardless of your technique, there are some things you should take into consideration before planning out your Spring 2014.

1. Check your requirements. No matter what your class track is, there will be some courses that you simply have to take, whether or not you feel they are relevant to your ultimate career goal. Be aware of these classes and the number you have left to take.

2. How much is too much? Know your limits. Is an 18 credit-hour schedule plus an executive board position and a job really manageable? Will you still have time to sleep and for a social life? Ask yourself these questions when deciding how many classes you should take.

3. Be in the know. Make sure you understand how to work the registration website before your time ticket is up. Choosing the right classes for you only does so much if you can’t actually sign up for them.

4. Do what you like. College classes are designed very differently from high school; amid the required, tough classes lays many interesting classes. That is not to say that required classes aren’t fun. Make sure you are signing up for courses that both interest you and give you credit.

5. DARS is your new best friend. UIC’s Degree Audit Reporting System is a great way to stay in the know about what is going on with your classes. The system shows you how much you have progressed toward graduation. This is accessed through your my.uic.edu account.

6. Don’t take it for the “easy A.” All too often we hear students asking one another for advice on an “easy” class that will fulfill such and such credit. The reality is that one class that a student finds easy may not be as easy to another. The easiest grade you will ever get is one you earn in a class you enjoy.

8. Watchful waiting for the win. If you are unable to get into a class at the point of your registration, you can always “watch” the class numbers online to see if anyone removes the class from their schedule. The key to this is to be aware of the date when registering for classes is no longer allowed.

7. When in doubt, get help. It doesn’t matter if this is your second time registering for classes or your 22nd — sometimes we can all use some help. Don’t hesitate to contact your advisor, RA/PM, friends, etc. Remember, you are not alone in this process!

Talk to me, talk to me

I cannot stress enough how important communication is in practically any setting. While there are some things I may agree that conversation does not need to take place in order for something to get done, I think that can only happen if communication about that situation already had taken place. So, how can we all communicate better and be appreciative about it?

Well, I think it starts with seeing who else is affected by the communication in the first place. Sometimes we’re stuck on our own bubble and got our own things to worry about that we kind of blow off each other with no signs of why. And man that hurts! The people who are affected by that one person gets KILLED, whether it be at work, at social outings, or school.

This works on both sides. While the person might not be doing their job well, perhaps, it is also the person who notices this and feels hurt by this to speak up, not to wait around for the other person to suddenly realize how much harm they are doing (because they might not ever notice). No one wins like that.

These conversations are difficult to start, mainly because they are truly confrontational in nature. I feel that a lot of people are scared of confronting or being confronted, but if we all don’t express our voices in a nonjudgmental environment, then we’ll continue to see situations through one scope or perspective. We can try and run, but the tension and unease will catch up.

Sorry to sound like I am ranting! I am like many of you with a tight schedule and trying to make ends meet by studying hard in school and juggling part-time jobs and other extra-curricular activities. It is unfriendly to all of us who receive news last minute, for example, about something as important as the three things I mentioned just now. Even waiting on an email, say, about a job offer, is a big deal, especially if the company said they’d contact you last week and didn’t! Surely we can all pitch in what we are thinking about, knowing that someone else really needs to receive this “intel” because it DOES affect them greatly.

Can we ever find peace? I always wondered what it must be like to be a judge. You want to hear both sides of the story, but if one person is over powering the other it gets kind of frustrating, and you know how people love to exaggerate or twist the truth! Not sure how many of you plan on going to law school and working ten years to later become a judge, but if you do I applaud your efforts and hope that you can make the difference that this world needs in enforcing good communication among peers, colleagues and all.

Keeping in touch with the student body

As some of you readers may know, I am the chair of the communications and recruitment committee for the UIC Undergraduate Student Government. As I hold this new position, I’ve been working hard to assure that undergraduates are aware of USG and how we serve as the official voice for the undergraduate student body.

I love my position because I get to apply the same skills that I learn about in my communication courses. Some of the new ideas my committee members and I have brainstormed will help assure that our image is projected throughout campus in a variety of ways. We will utilize our digital screen on the 2nd floor of SCE to project biweekly updates of what we are currently working on for the student body. Also, I am thankful that UIC News will also put some of our updates in the paper whenever there is room. We’re also working on getting our news updates on campus televisions in the student centers. We’re also going to be purchasing stand-up banners in the student centers as well.

Recently, we also started having our members go throughout campus to talk directly to students. The past couple of weeks, we have been in the Daley Library set up at a table with a USG tablecloth, giveaways and other promo material. This is a great way that will get the word out there about USG. So keep an eye out on our website about the next promo table location.

Let me know if there is anything else we can do to get the word out about USG! Feel free to comment below.

Until next time…

Mike

What Grinds My Gears, Part II

In no particular order:

1. Itchy sweaters.

2. Itchy tags on itchy sweaters.

3. When people forget how to drive when it rains or snows.

4. That sinking feeling you get when a sickness hits you and you just KNOW ” Uh oh…THIS IS NOT GOOD.”

5. Getting stuck by a freight train or on the expressway when you really have to go to the bathroom.

6. That dreaded first workout when you haven’t worked out in a long time.

7. Getting tickled. Yes. I laugh…but I hate it.

8. When you’re picking up a tantruming toddler and he goes boneless and limp.

9. When people ask me questions or try to talk to me the second I wake up in the morning.

10. People who seek attention all the time. Ahem…we all do it but I’m talking people who do it ALL the time.

11. When someone walks in while you’re in the middle of a movie or show and proceeds to ask 50 questions. “What’s that guy’s name? He is married to that one chick from that one movie. What movie is that called? Where is the other guy from? Oh! What a great movie!! Who directed this?”

12. When every radio station is playing techno. What is up with this techno boom boom music kids listen to these days?

13.  When the Hawks blow their lead in the 3rd period.

14. When I am so exhausted, that I feel drunk.  And trust me…its not a fun drunk feeling.

15. When little kids give me attitude. “Don’t you sass me! I am the queen of attitude!”

16. That you supposedly have hundreds of TV channels and cannot find anything good to watch.

17. That I constantly have cold feet. I think it’s Reynaud’s disease.

18. That I can’t go on Web MD without finding a bunch of diseases I think I have.

19. Even though you make a doctor’s appointment, you never get called in at the “appointed” time.

20. Uncomfortable furniture.

And I can probably come up with some more but I want to know, what grinds your gears?

Catching the conference bug

I’ve been told by countless people in Campus Housing that I need to go to at least one leadership conference during my college years. For one reason or another, I found myself in my junior year, having held numerous leadership positions throughout my years here, yet never attending a leadership conference despite all of the encouragement I’d received. This time, I had absolutely no excuse to not be on the delegation; UIC hosted this fall’s CASCHA (Chicago Area Student and Campus Housing Association) conference. Our school hasn’t won a bid to host for a long time, so this is a really big deal! Schools from all over Chicagoland (some even as far as Valpo!) came out for the daylong conference to attend sessions put on by fellow leaders and professional housing staff as well as network/meet other Campus Housing leaders.

UIC's CASCHA 2013 delegation!

I was scheduled to present on leadership and social media from 3:30-4:15. I had no idea how I was going to talk for that long, but I had all day to think about that. The conference started bright and early. I groggily walked out of the residence halls into the Montgomery Ward Lounge and found myself facing a large, loud group of people, all from different Chicago area universities. It was really cool to see all of the different student leaders who, despite being from completely different schools, faced the same challenges and shared the same successes.
My presentation went well, and when it was over, I felt as if 1,000,000 pounds was lifted off of my shoulders (I worked really hard on the presentation and stressed out about it quite a bit.) I was sad to see all of the student leaders go, but it is really cool to know so many other student leaders at our neighboring schools. Our delegation had a great time and represented UIC perfectly.

The conference was such a great experience, and I am so glad that I can finally say I attended a leadership conference while living here in housing. It is incredible that Campus Housing offers us so many opportunities to get involved and become a leader in a way that best suits you.  I definitely plan to attend more in the very near future (hopefully the Illinois State Residence Assistant Association next semester!) Talk to you next week!

Already?

I got an email about registration for spring 2014 and I got all excited about it (registering for classes is so fun!). It used to be stressful to register because all you ever want is the perfect schedule that you have all planned out until suddenly you realize the day that you register the class is full! So, word of advice — be prepared.

So, what am I going to take, along with my MCAT re-studying?

  1. Biochemistry II
  2. Anatomy and Physiology II
  3. Genetics Laboratory
  4. Polish 102

If I had to rank the difficulty based on what I have heard from my peers, it sounds like from hard to easy it goes Biochemistry II > Anatomy and Physiology II > Polish 102 >>> Genetics Laboratory. Let’s hope I survive these insane courses! I want to prepare myself for medical school as much as possible (I wouldn’t want to go in and not have at least some familiarity with the course load).

This semester has been tough balancing everything, but I can’t stop because I enjoy everything so much! I am definitely going to take more time dedicated to research in the spring since I have to complete my Capstone, and I want to pump out that data I collected this past summer when I vibrated mice, hehe.

Halloween is tomorrow! I used to be a fan but eh, not a fan of terror. Stay safe and scream!

Learning time management

Throughout my college career, I have worn a lot of hats. Not hats as in clothing wear, but rather in the various roles I have held — student, intern, employee, student government leader and others I have held at various times. The first two years, I really struggled with time management. I’ve had all of these different roles, but could not find a proper balance in which I can enjoy myself as well. However, once junior year came around, I was finally able to learn how to juggle many things.

Why am I saying this? Simply because I notice how many students feel so stressed out about the various things they have on their plate. Sometimes, they are like this all 4 years! So I’ve recently asked myself – hmm, how did I learn time management? Well, today I will be revealing my secret formula.

  • Dedicated time – Junior year, I started dedicating specific times for specific things. For example, if I had student government work to do, I would make sure that during my office hours, I did all of the work I needed…and I stuck to it. If I had student government work, then I made sure I did it during that time and at no other. Similarly, if I had homework to do, I made sure I did it during pre-set times throughout the week. I spread my homework out throughout the week so that I can accomplish more in little time. If I set 2 hours for doing my communication readings, then I made sure I did it during those 2 hours and in no other time slots. Even though I knew I had more stuff to do, I learned not to worry about them until the time I had allotted for it. This not only decreased my stress time, but also increased my productivity because I was able to focus on one thing at a time. To sum it up, I became more successful by dedicating various times for my various tasks. And I stuck to them.
  • Turn-off my mind and my device – Similarly, I learned in the past year how to turn off my mind. Yes, I have lots of stuff to do at all times – there’s never a moment where I don’t have something to do. However, this is life and I accepted it. So, if I had set time for relaxation, then I told myself to do just that. So instead of watching a movie and worrying about the many chapters I have to read for my management book, I just enjoyed my movie and kept the worries saved for when I had to read the book. Also, this goes along with turning off my cellphone or other devices. I am typically addicted to it! But I learned how to put my phone away during times I couldn’t afford to be distracted. For example, during homework time or when I was at my internship, I put my phone in my bag and kept it there for hours at a time and practiced patience until the time I said I could look at it. Overall, turning off your mind or devices requires a little practice and patience – once you master that, your stress levels will drop significantly.
  • To Do lists – I would be lost without my Reminders app on my iPhone. I keep track of everything I have to do at school, my internship, USG or anything else in life. I set timed reminders as well to let me know when I have to do them. Keeping a to-do list, whether on a phone or a notebook, has dramatically decreased my anxiety and increase my productivity.
  • Sleep does good things – When I first started college, like other college students, I thought sleep was for the weak. I would be perfectly content with doing homework at midnight, going to sleep at 3 a.m., then waking up at 8 a.m. Looking back, getting 5 hours of sleep and doing homework at the absolute last minute made me feel utterly miserable. Now that I have dedicated times for homework, I could go to bed at midnight instead of starting homework at that time. I now value sleep so much that it’s really hard to function on anything less than 7 hours. Moral of the story is to sleep and good things will ensue! Like Benjamin Franklin once said – “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man [or woman, might I add] healthy, wealthy and wise.”

If you find yourself strugging with time management and stress, I really hope you are able to improve on it with my suggestions! Let me know if anything helps you, or comment below with any of the things that have helped you!

Tricks and Treats

This Halloween, I won’t going out or win the best costume contest. Sad. I know. I am far too busy to plan something to top last year and my guy works on the night all the parties are happening. Oh well! I have some other things in store.

Here is my Pete the Cat costume: The top and jeans I got from Old Navy, the tail I got at the dollar store and covered it with blue fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric, the gloves I got from Five Below, the white shoes I got from Payless, and the mask is actually two parts. The top part I got from Party City, and the bottom nose I got from a Halloween store.  Both were painted blue and I added the yellow around the eyes since Pete has yellow eyes.  Probably will look better when I have it all on.  Let’s not forget, it’s for 4 and 5 year olds! :) I’ll post pics when I have it on at school.

I made bats with my students and they loved so much that I decided to make them with the kids I nanny.

One thing my kids love to do, that takes up time is bake.  I found some cool ghost and pumpkin designs on Pinterest for them to decorate cupcakes.  This is what they looked like on Pinterest:

This is what the looked like when we did them…nailed it!:

Looking for something to do? On Halloween Eve, my dad, Tommy Muellner, will be performing his annual Halloween concert at the Jazz Showcase!

October 30, 2013
8PM & 10PM, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.
Free admission

WDCB night at The Jazz Showcase presents: a special appearance of the DRACULA all stars! - with Bill Overton(AKA as Count Orloff) on reeds & vocals, Art Davis (the Count of Bebop) on trumpet, Kelly Sill (the warlock) on bass, Xavier Breaker (visiting from the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania) on drums & Tom Muellner (Drucula’s son’s, son-in-law’s, 2nd cousin removed) on piano, with a special appearance of the Countess Arlene Bardelle. We’ll be doing a recreation of Johnny Griffin’s “Blues for Dracula” recorded by Philly Joe Jones.

HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEEEEEENN!!!

On Halloween, I’ll be dressing up for school as Pete the Cat, of course.  I’ll be carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seed, and scaring trick-or-treaters!