Not so spring break

Usually when you think of spring break, you think warm weather, bathing suits, no work and no school work.  Well, NOT ONE of those things were present for me.  It was cold, I certainly am NOT bikini ready, I had to work and I had a ton of school work to get done.

Bottom Line…It.sure.stinks.being.an.adult.

Monday: I had little sleep and had to nanny. All three boys. All day. It was Sam’s 2nd birthday so I decided to take the boys to Chuck E Cheese’s.  They were pretty well behaved most of the day (which is nothing short of a miracle).  I ran out of money pretty quickly, which then triggered the puppy dog eyes for more tokens.  I tried to ONLY eat a salad because the pizza is not that great.  But I was so hungry that I ended up eating a few pieces (which I IMMEDIATELY regretted).  I felt awful after I ate.  Just totally exhausted and felt like I was moving in slow motion.  That’s what junk food does to me.  After I wrangled all the boys in from choosing their Made in China, probably going to break in an hour toy that they “won”(courtesy of Lauren’s wallet), we headed back to their house.  Ben went with his dad to run an errand, I was able to put Sam down for his nap and Jack grabbed a book and read.  I thought, “Finally, I can start working on my homework.”  Nope.  Distractions. Distractions everywhere.  Ben came back from running errands with his dad and started playing on the Ipad right next to me.  I couldn’t tell him to stop because he was playing an educational game and was asking for help.  On top of that, dad started doing some work in the basement putting up drywall.  Not exactly a quiet project.  At that point, I knew I wasn’t getting any work done.  So, after an hour, or so, I started to make the boys a snack and in runs dad telling me they have to leave ASAP to go an event for mom’s work.  I had to wake up Sam, get him all dressed, yell at Jack and Ben for wrestling on the kitchen floor, and get all of their stuff ready so they were ready to go when Mom came home to pick everyone up.  A pretty exhausting 9 hours.  When I got home, I LITERALLY sat on my couch staring at the wall thinking about a) how much stuff I had to do b) how exhausted I felt c) how I HAD to find the energy to go to the gym.

Tuesday: The day began with Jack and Ben fighting. The day continued with Jack and Ben fighting. The day ended with Jack and Ben fighting.  Dad and I ended up splitting up for the morning.  I took Jack and Sam to the library.  But I forgot that Lollapalooza tickets were going on sale that morning.  I tried doing it on my phone and it wasn’t working.  I was that girl walking around with my phone in the air looking for a signal.  So, I had Jack watch Sam for a little bit while I hopped on the computers and got tickets.  I’m glad I did. The 3-day passes ended up selling out.   Things were fine during lunch. They usually are when they have food in front of them.  Then, Jack and Ben started fighting, AGAIN.  So, I told them I’d prefer if they didn’t play video games when their friends came over for a play date.  The IDEA was to make them come up with other things to do with their friends.  Little did I know it would start World War III.  Dad left to do something so it was me against 5 boys. The rest of the day is sort of a blur with flashbacks of name calling, tattle tales and the sound of my quiet sob in the background.

Wednesday: Was less stressful.  I spent the morning at St. Edmunds doing some observation hours.  I always look forward to going there and spending time in the preschool class.  Those kids genuinely make me laugh.  They are only 3 years old have have such amazing personalities.  Just for fun, I want to collect some data on how many times I see the kids fingers in their noses.  HUNDREDS. In the afternoon I went back to nanny.  The boys were a little less crazy.  Still fighting…amazingly.  But I kept them busy which always helps.
Thursday: DAY OFF! Well, kind of.  I still did a couple observation hours in the morning.  The rest of the day I got to spend with my guy.

Friday: Homework. All. Day.

That was my spring break.  It wasn’t very springy and it wasn’t a break from anything.

Now summer break…THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!

Break for a shake!

One of the perks of living in the city is the amount of things you can do! This week has been full of actually having a life. A couple of friends and I went to Ghiradelli Chocolate yesterday and their sundae was absolutely mouth-watering! My friend and I had to share one because we didn’t think we could finish one on our own. It’s funny because for the past two months I have been living in a cave. This semester has been super busy and has required me to study A LOT. This week was a little more relaxed because all my exams were the week before.

My friend Priyanka (left) whom I met in high school! She's a fun one to be around!

This was a good start to what is going to be a somewhat of a spring break… I have exams right after spring break so I’m studying the majority of the time.

Hope you all are having a wonderful spring break!

No rush

There is no rush to get into medical school. What was all of the hype earlier? When I had this inclination a few months ago to take the MCAT by the end of March and to apply to all of the medical schools in the state of Illinois no matter what, I think I might have been overly confident in my abilities. I mean, writing my personal statement has been very difficult, mainly because I know why I want to be a doctor but I lack the clinical experiences that would really PROVE to someone that I know what I am getting myself into. Sure, I am capable, but I think when it comes to choosing when it is you want to pursue such an occupation is crucial (or any type of graduate school post-undergrad) for you.

How do you know you’re ready? Medical school sounds like all of the science classes at UIC, jam-packed into one semester for four consecutive years! Imagine being an incoming freshman bombarded with that…everybody would drop out! I hear a lot of people who go into medical school right away get burnt out and wish they had taken a year off, and I hear a lot of people who do take time off before going to medical school are really glad they did. Of course, there are also those who wish they went in right away and did not take the time off.

So, back to the question, how do you know you’re ready? You don’t. Not unless you’ve really experienced it. I’m not sure if I’m ready to drop $200,000 and four years of my life to do this (especially not after reading In Stitches by Anthony Youn in my ASAM 105 class). As exciting as it sounds, it really takes a lot of persistence, maturity and motivation to survive and push forward to the end goal of becoming a doctor (because it is what you want to do, right?) and then working the rest of your life as whatever physician you choose to be. But coming out of medical school you don’t really have a choice to not work because you’ll be in so much debt (unless you signed up for a program that relieves that debt).

And what is a world without choices? Every day we should be making decisions so that in the end we can work towards our goal, but some people may not even know what they are working towards and that’s okay! There is no rush to figuring out what it is you want to do. It’s easier if you do know, but life is not easy (obviously). What should be done, however, is pursuing what you THINK your interest lies, even if you think it’s “stupid.” After all, you don’t know if you like something until you try it (please stay away from drugs though o_o). Occupational-wise, it is good to do your research, get some experience with that field and really understand what it is to do what a person in that field does. It will either make you even more excited to pursue that interest, or it will make you realize you could never see yourself doing that and then you can move on and explore your other interest.

And while we can do that AFTER pursing our original interest, we could not be able to do so until retirement (if that is possible) — let’s say around 50 years old — and by that age you probably don’t want to go traveling and taking pictures anymore.

We’re still young and have a lot to learn. Don’t be scared to push off some things if you’re not ready because when you are ready, you’ll be able to do just about anything you want.

Anyway, update with me:

  1. Received a fellowship for the summer to do research at the same lab that I’ve been working in (very excited and can’t wait to fully immerse myself into research)…also got published
  2. HAC had a successful time at Clemente High School! Looking to go to more schools in April
  3. Did really well on my second biochemistry exam as well as my quizzes for my other two biology classes (studying = huge pay off)
  4. Improved my MCAT score even though I didn’t study for two weeks and got sick
  5. Plan to study a lot during spring break for my homeostasis exam (on April 4), and to also study for the MCAT..do research, get my allergy shots…OH and play at my erhu teacher’s recital (I have to play this really hard erhu piece that you can listen to here).
  6. Sign up for classes on April 3 (can’t decide what to do still)
  7. Plan for my Honors College capstone project for the fall and spring of 2013-2014 (eep!)
  8. Work on my personal statement, think about who can write me LORs, and find shadowing opportunities…

UIC Confessions brings us together?

As a communication major, I frequently study the impact and mechanisms of social media and technology. Now I won’t bore you by citing research, but I do want to highlight something I noticed in regards to the popular Facebook page, UIC Confessions.

The page basically posts anonymous confessions from UIC students. Through an external website, students can submit text up to 300 words. The unknown page admin then posts the confessions on the page for all users to see, comment on and like. It’s pretty a simple, straight-forward format. But it in a weird, sick-twisted way, it’s bringing the students of UIC closer together.

Most of the confessions consist of secret admirers, silly pranks and stories. Some are so farfetched that it leaves me wondering if some of them are real. Nevertheless, all of the confessions make for a good laugh. I have found myself constantly refreshing the page for more hilarious stories. Its a good pick-me-up during a long day. And based off of the many comments and likes on the page’s posts, it seems most students are enjoying the page also.

I love examining the comments on the confessions. Sometimes people respond with snarky feedback, clever comebacks or lengthy laments. It’s also great to see people tagging their friends that the confession could be about. Although it’s entertaining to look at the page’s feedback, I also noticed that the page in itself is a community. Many UIC students are connecting through the page to share stories, experiences, laughs and more. It seems that people are even being connected to crushes through the page. It seems as if the UIC Confessions page has brought together students in a way that I have not seen other outlets do so far in my 3 years at the university. To be quite honest, it seems like students are meeting and conversing with other students more through the UIC Confessions page then through classes or campus social events.

The fact that the UIC Confessions page has brought a sense of community is commendable. It’s very telling to see that this community is taking place online – especially since it’s on Facebook. As a communication major, it really tells me a lot about the shift of communication from in-person to social websites. Is it that hard to talk to someone and share a story or secret in class? Why are we resorting to a Facebook page to air our dirty laundry?

I think what makes the UIC Confessions page so successful is the fact that it’s anonymous, convenient and entertaining. I felt I had to spotlight it this week because whether we notice it or not, what we’re seeing develop before our very eyes is a new form of UIC communities and communication. Welcome to 2013.

PS – Who wrote this about me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sugar War

You may have heard about this so-called “Sugar War.”  It has been on all over the news. It involves a fight about the lack of moderation of super-sized sugary drinks consumed by our country.  Mayor Bloomberg of New York wants to ban drinks with an extremely high amount of high-fructose corn syrup and sugar in large quantities to help combat obesity in this country.  On the other side of the debate, people feel that this ban infringes upon their rights.  It has been very heated, becoming yet another debate that eventually is turning into conservatives versus liberals.  An “attack on people’s rights,” if you will.

When I was in grade school, we did not have a pop machine in our lunchroom (I say “pop” because I’m from Chicago and we don’t say “soda”).  We had a “Fruitopia” juice machine.  I rarely used that machine.  I usually just drank the milk they offered.  They actually didn’t even allow any one to drink pop, even if it was brought from home.  I remember my mom packed me a ginger ale and put foil around it so I could have it with my lunch (which was a very rare occurrence).  The lunch lady caught me red handed!! She was nice and let me finish it because obviously my mom had packed it for me.  Where have those times gone?

Today, when I go to the movies and I get a medium drink, it’s 20 oz. A large is 32 oz.  That is insane! No one should drink that much pop.

DID YOU KNOW?

17% of children ages 2-19 are obese.

In 2012, the New York City Board of Health with Mayor Bloomberg approved the restrictions on the sale of large sugary drinks, which was blocked in recent weeks.  Supposedly, the judge said that the rules on this legislation were “arbitrary and capricious,” because they only applied to certain drinks at certain locations. Mayor Bloomberg claims this is an error and plans to appeal.

Obesity is expensive

It seems on the surface that people are obese because the fast food that they consume every day is all they can afford or all they have available.  However, I don’t think people are educated about how important healthy foods.  In the long run, obese people have medical bills that are almost $1,500 more annually than medical bills of people who are not obese.

Approximately 72.5 million American adults are obese 

That number is astounding.  Why?? It seems as though, perhaps, adults within this statistic have not had the proper knowledge of the importance of healthy food.

When I stated earlier that this debate has been heated, blown up and turned into an “attack on people’s rights,”  in the words of Joe Biden…that’s a load of “malarkey.”  My question is….If the people against the regulation of the sales and consumption of large, fully-loaded with sugar, not healthy for you, not necessary and never SHOULD be necessary beverages, say the government is infringing on the American people’s rights, then WHY…tell me, why is it that being against issues like abortion and gay rights DON’T infringe on people’s rights?  People would protect their super-sized 32-oz. or 40-oz. drink over a fellow American’s human rights?

All we are trying to do is get this country healthier.  I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  So, ladies and gentlemen…treat your body like a temple, because you only get one.

 

 

Why I left Facebook

 

Three weeks ago I made a conscious decision to leave Facebook. It was actually very difficult.  I feel that we currently live in a generation where we not only see social media as convenient, but it is the expected and preferred mode of communication for many millennials.  I recently have found the whole thing very overwhelming, so I decided to leave.

 

1.  I procrastinated too much. 

A few weeks ago I told you about my workload of about 15 pages of assignments per week. Even though I should have been spent my computer time reading a research article, my eyes were glued to Facebook. I wrote and read no-nonsense posts and played little games.  Since I have been off of Facebook, I feel less stressed about my school work.  Because Facebook does not distract me, I finish my work on time.  I even finish with EXTRA time to catch up on the latest episode of “The Good Wife.”

2. It made me sad.

There have been plenty of articles to suggest that Facebook evokes feelings of loneliness, envy and misery.  Being a mid-20s millennial, I have found this to be very true for me.  It seems as if all of my Facebook friends are starting cool new jobs, beginning to create a family and/or appear to have the most amazing weekends filled with Chicago night life.  Their lives are chronicled through an array of pictures, status updates and check-ins; each one cooler than the last. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for the achievements of my real friends, but Facebook is a plethora of cool accomplishments.  When you are unsure of yourself, between jobs, going through a break up, or just not in a good place in your life, you are forbidden from posting these things on Facebook.  “Facebook is not your diary” is a common phrase that comes to mind.  But what my generation seems to forget is that everyone feels sad sometimes…and that is OK.  If social media is now the preferred form of communication, then my generation needs to allow people to be as authentic with their emotions as they can – even if it is over the internet.  Personally, I am tired of having to explain myself and my achievements.  Even though I do not go out every weekend or have a cool job, I like where my life is right now.  There is no need to project that life on Facebook.

3. I got bored.

I have never been big on routine. Recently, I have found Facebook to be the same thing.  Log on, go through newsfeed, like some posts, say happy birthdays, make a funny post, and come back in 15 minutes to see who commented on my post, repeat!  Really, what kind of life is that? I’m a traveler, explorer, and I love to try new things.  Facebook does not allow me to do that.  Sure, I could chronicle my explorations on Facebook, but then I would be contributing to the same phenomenon that makes me sad.

 

I do think Facebook can be a great way to keep up with friends, but I was one of those people “addicted” to Facebook.  I did not use it as a leisurely activity; I used it as my primary method of communication with friends.  It feels nice to be unplugged and not constantly connected.

How do you feel about Facebook?  Are you constantly plugged in?

Campus housing events!

Hello UIC!

This week has been SUPER hectic. I had two midterms on Thursday (Behavioral Neuroscience and Organic Chemistry) and an eight-page philosophy paper due. Studying for both midterms and writing a paper simultaneously was probably the most difficult task. I’m just so glad it’s over!

Last week, MRH (Marie Robinson Hall) hosted a housing event called Pi Day. My roommates and I went because they had free pie! And who wouldn’t want free pie??? It felt good just to relax after a day of exams and eat some pie! Unfortunately, I was too tired to make conversation with new people, but hopefully next time!

This is a picture of my roommates from left to right, Shruti, Katherine and Jenny!

My roommate Jenny hosted a housing event last semester where anyone could come in and make gingerbread houses. It was a lot of fun! She also applied for a Resident Assistant (RA) position about a month ago and she got it! It’s going to be odd not living with her next year cause she’s been my roommate for two years now, and she was my first real close friend in college.

Hosting or attending housing events is a fantastic way to get involved, meet new people and/or take a study break! It also is a good way to get to know your Resident Directors so if you ever want to apply for an RA (Resident Assistant) position you would have a better chance of getting it. RA positions on campus also get free housing! Applications are competitive, but if it’s something you’d be willing to put in the time for, it is definitely worth it.

Someone wrote this for me and sent it to UIC Compliments! I love random acts of kindness! This definitely made my month!

Above is a picture of a UIC Compliment someone sent me yesterday! UIC Compliments is a page on Facebook where you can send kind, anonymous messages to anyone on campus! I love this page because it can brighten someone’s day up so much. I think it makes it even more meaningful when it’s anonymous. I guess it’s the fact that you can impact people around you without even knowing it. So if you ever want to make someone’s day, just “Like” UIC Compliments on Facebook and send someone a message!

Good luck on your exams, everyone! If you live on campus, go get out there and check out a housing event!

In the end, education is all you have that is yours

Not sure how many times this ever crosses someone’s mind, but I know for me in the past it used to: “Why am I here? What can my degree even do? I’m paying thousands and thousands of dollars to go here and for what? Why can’t I just not go to school and start working? Working is so much more meaningful than this…”

Health Activism Committee at Clemente High School

In the club that I lead (Health Activism Committee, HAC), we have been going to Clemente High School to present health topics to freshman biology students. The presentations include nutrition, drugs, sex education and mental health. I am SO proud of my committee members and can't wait to compile all of their experiences and comments to improve the program for next year! We plan on going to more schools in April so that we can reach out to more populations that need this kind of information. Pictured here are Varvara V. and Collin L. presenting the mental health part of the health education program. Patrick F. took the picture from his iPhone. Thank you Patrick! =)

That was the past mentality I had during the year I had a lot of second thoughts about medicine, evidenced by my willingness to take on so many part-time jobs/work that are not related to medicine in any way (art-stuff mainly). Surprisingly, I managed to pull off an amazing GPA last semester (darn organic chemistry lab made it not 4.0) with my eight part-time jobs, but this semester it really hit me that I need to dedicate everything to my education because that’s all I’ll really ever have in life that is mine.

I mean, you can fall back and just find a job and start working straight out of high school, but you’ll never get the chance to really explore what it is you want and don’t want. For some people it’s really easy (they don’t like a lot of things and go with what they like or would be good at) and for some people like me it’s incredibly difficult (I like everything and have capability to go and do those things well).

I’m really glad I chose to go to UIC because it has allowed me to take so many different classes with such a diverse community that I don’t think I could get from any other university. Yeah, I could have graduated last year if I REALLY wanted to (it would beat my brother graduating in three years), but I chose not to. And previously in my head I felt like it might have been a dumb idea to not have graduated so early, you know, save two years of tuition money and go out and work (I doubt medical schools would want me because I’d be 19 and the average age to go to medical school is 24)…mainly gain some experience in the health field while working on my MCAT and application…but I didn’t.

And I’m glad I didn’t. I’m growing with each year that I am here and it’s so wonderful. I look at all of the elective classes that I took that I didn’t have to take at all (most of my friends just take the bare minimum to graduate so they can get out of here and move on with their lives) and I do not regret it. My major classes are not bad either, but it’s my electives that kept me interested and wanting to work hard in school because those allowed me to really understand what my passion was.

And even though someone could look at my major and pre-professional goal and say,”Oh, just another biological sciences/pre-med student,” I’m so much more than that. What I have put in and taken away from all of my classes at UIC have shaped me to always be open-minded, humble and happy.

Sure, we have happiness in other things–relationships, family, friends–but people come and go. People pass away. People move on. And if it is true that family and friends shape you to be you, then who will you be when they are gone? They will be a memory and you will be hurt and sad that they are gone. Furious maybe, but ultimately upset and wondering what to do. And what will you fall back on? Yourself and what you made yourself to be. And you’ll look back at your accomplishments and realize that a lot of it was academically related and that it was your education that brought you there.

But of course, education comes in a lot of forms. Education is not at all restricted to the classroom or lecture setting. We learn from many experiences that we have and we take what we want from them and give what we can.

I guess my point is that your investment in whatever path you take is ultimately a decision that you make and no one can stop you. Making informed decisions about your future will surely grant you success in a life that you’ll be proud of. Learning is a lifelong process and I believe you will be very happy ’til the very end as long as you have a solid education in any form you please.

Reading your massmails

I’ve never really understood why some students don’t read the massmails sent out from UIC. Yes, I understand they can be annoying because about three to four, on average, are sent out every day. But the massmails really do contain a lot of good information and resources!

I scan my massmails everyday, and if something interests me I read on more about it. I usually end up learning about new events on campus, initiatives from the school administration or just news from UIC News. I think it’s a great system that really attempts to keep students in the loop about what’s going with their university.

Students often complain about the university not giving information about new things. In USG, we usually send massmails out to students about our events or new initiatives. Some students ask us: why you don’t communicate with us? While I feel that more can be done, the massmail system is a really good tool to keep UIC informed about what’s new. I honestly believe UIC does a good job of giving news out – it’s just that many students choose not to read them.

If you don’t read your massmails – I challenge you to do so for the next week! Let me know what new things you learn that you haven’t known before. I promise you will feel more informed about the university!

A light at the end of the tunnel

The past year has been an interesting one being back in school.  It was just last semester I was telling my adviser that I felt like I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I felt a little lost in the program.  I didn’t feel lost in my classes but it was the idea of graduating with my master’s that seemed so far away. Class after class, with no end.

I was looking in my computer for a document I needed to print to log in all my field experience hours.  Field experience is assigned hours observing in the classroom for certain classes in order to graduate.  I found something called “Early Childhood Education Program Checklist.”  I was all like, “Hey! what’s this?” Weird, because I had it saved in my downloads meaning I HAD downloaded it from UIC’s website before, but never happen to open it.  What did it tell me? Well, to my surprise…after this semester, I have three classes left before I start my student teaching! In the fall I’ll have two of them and in the spring, I’ll have the other.  One year from now, I will be in the classroom.  I am so excited!

Another exciting thing that I have going for me is becoming a new member of the Golden Key International Honor Society!  I received an email a few months back that I was in the top 15 percent of my class.  I decided to join because I worked hard to be where I am and I deserve recognition.

So, it’s midway through the semester and I think I have managed my stress pretty well.  I also have a good sense of what I have to do for projects that are due in the next month and a half.

I’ll end this post a little short but as I end most posts….GO BLACKHAWKS!

They are representing Chicago on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated.  Just as the title says…this team brought hockey back.  From OUR city.  This is OUR team. Let’s Go Hawks!!