Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

Without home, six weeks

I remember conducting group work at the Writing Center and one student told me he wished the university worked harder to make him feel less home sick, especially for the first year of college. I thought back to my first year and didn’t even bother with thinking about home when I was busy exploring the city and diligently studying for my classes (that was quite an enjoyable year). It was sophomore year and beyond that I really wanted to be home as much as possible. I remember I used to go home almost every weekend; my roommate would go too! Yet, for more than one month now, I have not been home (neither has she). I am terribly homesick, and I know the full extent of what the student was talking about.

Sometimes we’re just so focused with school that we forget about family, or not that we forget them but we trust that they’re okay and do our best with the situation at hand. It’s when you start to get those texts from your mom, then your dad, then your brother that you start to feel inclined to go home because they miss you and you miss them. Even though I suspected this semester to be like this, I didn’t anticipate how little time I had for myself and school work. My job at Rush has been wonderful, but it eats up a lot of time that could have been used to get me those A’s that I wanted on those midterm exams. Now, I’m scrambling and buckling down to study (of course, how can that happen when the holidays are nearing and all I want to do is relax?).

Well, I shouldn’t complain. There are people working on Thanksgiving and Christmas, weekends and weeknights that want to be home too. I don’t even know how much they depend on this lifestyle to sustain their living expenses, but it’s what needs to be done to stay alive. There are people around the world who probably would trade places in a heartbeat with anyone in this university. So, be thankful for what you have and know that you are in a better place, no matter how tough you perceive your struggles to be.

Also, if you haven’t started your Super Saiyan studying mode yet, PLEASE DO! Next week is basically pre-finals week for me (paper due, presentation to prepare for, two exams and another paper). My actual finals week isn’t too bad, just two exams (but I’m sure anatomy and physiology and nutrition during the life cycle will be tough so I’ll need to go hard core!).

Man, one more semester to go and then I’m going to graduate! It’s going to be great. :D

The Power of Education

It’s pretty common to dislike your homework, but you should like your major work, right? Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve disliked across my academic career, like many others, is research. Why did I go to a research-based school? Because I knew understanding the theory behind communication would be vital to actually doing communication work in my career.
I have already completed my own communication research last Fall. This year, I had to take my last research class in order to complete my communication program. The seminar’s theme is monsters in the media. To sum it up in the simplest way possible, the course explores how monsters in film and other media are used as symbolism to talk about deeper, social and political issues in the real world. Before taking the course, the topic seemed to be a bit silly. But now that I am pretty much done with the semester, I now understand the importance of using allegory to communicate larger issue alerts to the public. In fact, I now look at horror movies and television shows in an entirely different manner — just last week, instead of watching “The Seed of Chucky” as a simple-horror film, I was ale to understand the deeper social implications the film had. The course has made me look at media as an even more powerful tool then what I thought before.
As a result of this appreciation, I’ve actually found myself enjoying critical research. Instead of dreading my research paper this year, I’ve actually found myself excited to write it as well as doing research for it. I’m writing my paper on how pop music uses its platform and monster imagery to create awareness for social change. It’s a pretty interesting paper, as I talk about how something as simple as Lady GaGa singing “Born This Way” means much more for LGBT rights and gender neutral equality. The entire process of researching and writing is fun — did I just say that? That’s the power of education!
As a result of me beginning to like my school work, I realized that I’ve actually learned a lot about the greater world from my education at UIC. I can honestly say when I graduate in May I will be a very educated adult ready for to apply my theoretical understanding to a great job. I have been thankful for this education.
Until next time…

Mike

The Ugly Sweater Run

Everyone has an ugly Christmas sweater, right?  Wrong.  A few months back, my cousin and I decided to do the Ugly Sweater 5k.  We had an elaborate plan to make ugly sweatshirts and tutus.  We went to Michaels crafts one day and bought things that would be easy to put on a sweatshirt (felt stickers, little pom poms, etc.) and got to work!

After we glued random pieces of Christmas-themed felt, pom poms, little presents, a big Santa clause that was WAY too much work to put together, little bows, Christmas lights, and some wise men, we used glitter glue to put out names on the back of the sweatshirts.

It took a really long time for the glue to dry, so we moved on to the tutus.  My cousin bought red, green and white tulle fabric.

We used all of this tulle and tied it around a ribbon to make the tutu.  We both had Christmas socks and black leggings to throw into the outfit.  The only thing we had left to do was run the race (and by run, I mean mostly walk).

This is before the race in the garage at Soldier Field, where you can really see our sweatshirts glow!

We had PLANNED to start running a few weeks ahead of time so we could actually run the race without dying.  (Yes, I am that out of shape).  But that didn’t end up happening, so we decided that we could walk most of it.  We ASSUMED most people would be walking because it wasn’t a really serious race and more about having fun.  Anyways, as we were getting in line at the starting point, we realized we were a part of the first wave.  In my mind, the sooner we started, the sooner we could finish and can go get food and drinks!  They told us that runners would be on the left and walkers would be on the right.  Well, apparently everyone was running so….we did too.  Until, about a 1/2 mile in, I thought I pulled something from not stretching enough and she was having chest pains from breathing in the cold air.  I tell ya, we may have had the best costumes, but we were not prepared for exercise AT ALL.

In the end, we did it!

I think I am going to do the Ugly Sweater 5K every year!! It was a great way to kick off the holiday season.

A balancing act

It has become beyond evident to me that I am drowning in to-do lists. Between assignments and responsibilities, I have been struggling to find the time to sleep or do any other vital functions of life, for that matter. Thankfully, days off school are rapidly approaching. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a little break from the insanity.

Last year, I found myself credit hours away from completing my English major but with about a million and a half elective hours left to take. My advisor suggested picking up a minor or a double major, ideas my parents had been bringing up since I started school (needless to say, I didn’t listen to them). I looked through the list of majors and minors offered and decided on a double minor — Communication & Managerial Skills. The required classes looked manageable (no pun intended), and I felt like the minors were very much in line with my career goal of becoming a public relations professional. And just like that, I signed up for both Communication & Management courses for the fall 2013 semester.

I knew these classes would be a lot different from English courses, which are nearly all I’ve pretty much managed to take the entirety of my college career (English gen eds, English major classes, etc.) With these new classes came entirely new coursework taught by drastically different professors and lecturers. Perhaps one of the biggest things I have had to adjust to is the professors’ teaching styles, which are all incredibly different from those of the English department. Instead of writing papers, something that I feel comes naturally, I have found myself answering questions posed by professors or written at the end of a chapter. Fiction novels have been replaced by textbooks with glossaries and indexes. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy every minute of it, but this semester has been a challenge that has taken me some time to rise up to.

Studying was a fairly new concept to me (at least in my college career). I’ve had to find time to fit this in to my daily routine, or at least weekly…

I’ve felt so out of touch with the literary world, and I’m dying to sit for hours and read books. Not the kind with definitions and exercises on the sides of the page. But I find myself saying that things like this have to be put on hold.

It seems like we are always trying to look ahead to the next time we will have free time, the week we don’t have any exams, or, just like I mentioned earlier, an upcoming break. But I don’t think it’s ever really going to get any easier. There will always be something that needs to be done. There will always be the tinge of guilt when I want to lay down and watch a movie instead of getting started on a project or doing my laundry. I think we just need to learn to live with this stress instead of always trying to diminish it. This crazy, incredible, exhausting first semester of junior year has taught me just that. That isn’t to say that important tasks should be ignored or put off-simply prioritized. As a wise old Dove chocolate wrapper once told me, “Take a moment for yourself today.”

I can either always try to get everything done and never have time for myself, or I can pick and choose my battles and enjoy my dwindling time here. I think it’s safe to say we both know my choice.

Regrets made and conquered

I have many friends who tell me they wish they can start over their college career, starting with freshman year and up. They wish they didn’t socialize as much or tried harder in their classes since they have to “pay back” now for their past mistakes. But I see who they are now and they are so much more motivated than they were before. It’s true; it would have been nice to have that motivation from the start — but would you have learned anything from college? What are we here for if we are without these “failed” experiences? Sure, I could have rushed and gotten the heck out of here in two years if I wanted to. I could have saved $60,000 and have less debt than I do now (I’m sure other people have it worse). Sure, my parents say I shouldn’t pursue such a difficult path of medicine or work 10 million part-time jobs, but I’m happy when I do so. It’s not at all easy for me (it’s a ton of stress actually), but I see this path as a route for my personal growth in being able to make interpersonal relationships with others and finding the bigger meanings in life that drive us to do what it is that we do.

Red-Orange Tint on Sears Tower and UIC

I was waiting for the UIC Intracampus bus to get to my job at Rush and thought this was so pretty! The sun was shining and reflecting back the city's skyline. Can't wait for us all to get covered in snow (we already had a glimpse of that but not enough...I better get boots soon).

My evaluation of this semester is interesting. I know it’s not over, but I can predict at this point how things will turn out. I’m pretty good at guessing my future responses when someone asks me what I would do if such and such happened, and here are some things I’ve learned about myself.

  1. I’m stubborn. I’ve always been stubborn, but this type of stubborn is like irrational stubborn. I will literally refuse to put myself before others when asked for help. I just can’t stand saying no to someone. I know I’ve gotten better with this over the years from getting taken advantaged of so many times, but man it still eats me up inside knowing that someone needs my help specifically! Why am I always the go-to person?
  2. I consciously recognize I have way too much on my plate. But I subconsciously know that I can handle it, which is why I have not quit anything this semester. I’ll lose some sleep, but luckily I’m still young and can handle it. I know once I graduate I’m going on a crazy health-freak mode with a regiment of exercise and good dieting (gotta work those cooking skills in).
  3. I love my family so much. I hate thinking about the awful relationship I had with my parents in the past. My relationship with my brother has always been good too, but it’s different now that we’re older and have to worry about finding jobs and being on our own feet. I’m glad I prepared myself for that and have a job post-graduation (unless they fire me, haha…)…but for those who have not had any work experience during college, I can’t imagine how they will find a job with just a degree (and hopefully a good GPA but who knows). Remember, getting a degree does NOT guarantee you will have a job straight out of college (or rather, a job that you actually want to pursue). So, if that’s all you think about, maybe change your plans because there’s more to college than that diploma!
  4. I’m easily annoyed (but I won’t show it). The beauty of being tolerable is that you won’t ever have a problem with someone. The problem with that is the whole “internalizing” your emotions that’ll give me a peptic ulcer somehow (heh, I hope not, totally false information here). Whoever started the Asian stereotype of labeling us as “quiet” or “pushovers,” you have no idea of the rage we can bring. Give one of us a voice and we’ll use it. But, not many people think about our opinions (feel free to chime in your opinion) or consider them, so what’s the point. I’m just babbling here.

The more I’ve been working at the ER, I notice how much more of a doctor I sound and act. It’s kind of awesome, and I’m looking forward to the learning process in this upcoming year (and the next 12 years). I don’t care how long it takes (just please make it possible for me to have food on the table and stable shelter with privacy. I need those few days off with Pandora playing my favorite songs and emails to reply to asking how people are, haha).

As Ariana Grande once said (and something I said as a youngin’ too), in 10 years now, all of this won’t even matter to you. Let the little things (the past mainly) go, and focus on your bright future ahead.

Giving thanks

This week, I am giving thanks early.  For all the times I complain saying, “We don’t have any water pressure!,” or, “There isn’t anything good to eat,” or “I wish I had a job that paid more,” I really do have a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the food I have, the showers I can take and the job that I have.

I am thankful for the opportunity that I can go to school.  Not many people have the time, energy or money to be able to continue their education like I have.  I’d be sooooo thankful if Obama forgave student loans, though!!

I am thankful for my family. I know I can always count on them to make me laugh, make me mad and most importantly, support me.

I am thankful for my boyfriend.  He is amazing and I don’t know what I would do without him in my life.   

I am thankful for my organizational skills.  Without them, I’d be lost.

I am thankful for the money I have in my pocket.  It may not be much, but at least it’s something.

I am thankful for hand sanitizer.  Believe me.  Spend one day in a school and you’ll be thankful for hand sanitizer, too.

I am thankful for the success of my brother’s restaurant, Pie-Eyed Pizzeria.  They have come such a long way.  They’ve had ups and downs and still continue to be more successful every year.

I am thankful for scarves.  I like scarves a lot.  They keep my neck warm.

I am thankful for the teachers in my life that have mentored me and allowed me to learn so much from them.  I was very lucky to be placed at Mary Lyon school for practicum this semester, and even luckier to have the cooperating teacher that I had.

Last, but certainly not least…

 

“I Have Been Changed for Good”

After an incredibly stressful weekend followed by a busy school week, it was so nice to have Wicked to look forward to. Campus Housing’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) took us to see the play on the 7th. Besides having the obvious excitement of going to see this play, I was thrilled for my boyfriend to finally see the musical since it was something he had never experienced, despite my obsession. This was my third time seeing it, and I can’t imagine not having ever seen the play at some point. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to see the musical as many times as I have, and every time see it, I find myself repeatedly getting the chills.

My boyfriend and me before the play started.

This time around was my first time seeing the musical as an adult. The two other times I saw Wicked, I was in elementary/middle school. I used to understand the entire play, but it wasn’t until the third time around that I truly understood one of its main messages.

At one point, the two main characters sing a song, “For Good,” where they say that they’ve come into one another’s lives for a reason and that they have been changed because they know each other. The two girls met at their “boarding school,” which more or less resembles that of a college residence hall. This idea of being changed for good resonated with me for quite some time. In the instance of the play, the two are singing the song to one another, but I feel as though the many people I’ve met at UIC and in Campus Housing have changed me for the better. The past 2-1/2 years have been a great maturing experience for me as both as student at UIC and a student leader in Campus Housing. When I thought about the song after the play, I was so surprised to think about all of the people who I have communicated with or worked with in one way or another. Somehow, because I knew each and every one of those people, I, too, have been changed. I have become a better person and a much more mature one thanks to these interactions with other students and faculty at UIC.

I also connected this back to myself as an RA. My hope is that every day, I am helping my residents in one way or another and and am hopefully changing them for the better as well. A big part of college is the connections you make and the friendships that grow out of little interactions. The play exemplifies just that — the way that these mundane interactions can grow into serious friendships that last beyond school. I can only hope that you find yourself making these similar connections in your day-to-day UIC lives as well.

The Playbill from the show!

After this great night of enjoyment, it’s back to schoolwork and RA duties for the weekend. Have a good week — talk to you soon! Go see Wicked if you have a chance — it’ll change your life!

Things I am looking forward to in one month

Even though people dread finals, I actually find a lot of excitement in preparation for those exams. Instead of thinking, “oh snap, I only got one week to learn everything from this semester,” I’m thinking, “here’s my chance to show the instructor how freaking brilliant I am (or crazy dumb but hardworking).” The only time I’ve ever bombed a final was when I had the flu and got into some crazy argument with someone close to me (who is not so close to me anymore, but it’s cool) the night before those two exams. You can probably read it in one of my earlier blogs, heh heh. I sure was full of range and naive back then!

Please, everyone, start your preparation one month before finals (It’s actually better if you start your studying on the first day of class, but who does that?). As much as I love to cram, it doesn’t work for everyone. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to cram and not everyone has that the night before the exam since they’re freaking out (as is expected). I stress and freak out too, but when you start to think about your goals and motivations and why you are even taking the time to go to college, it puts more perspective on what you strive to be and purpose in your education.

On another note, don’t be intimidated by others who are clearly excelling by their stressing. It’s really common to talk to someone about an exam or quiz, but the intention of doing so is usually to compare yourself with them and that can either boost your performance or weaken it a lot. I’m a bit wishy-washy when it comes to doing well or bad in class. I tend to underestimate “easy” classes and overestimate “hard” classes, so when I see myself doing well in a hard class I start to ease off on the studying (which makes me dip halfway through the semester and then I depend on the final to pull me up), and then when I start doing poor in an easy class I start to study a lot more (usually to do awesome but for this one Foods class I am taking…not so much!). I just want A’s in my science classes and I’ll be happy honestly.

So, I made a tough decision about my classes next semester. I deeply wanted to take the classes I had in mind (anatomy 2, biochem 2, polish 2, genetics lab), but that would have been 16 credit hours (not including research, and I was considering taking biology colloquium because I heard it rocks) and I would still be limited in the hours I put into research and my four other part-time jobs, in addition to the extra-curricular activities that I am a part of (did I mention MCAT studying?). I mentioned this in a blog post earlier but after picking up my MCAT books and restudying for everything again (slowly but surely), I felt that I needed to construct my priority list once more to focus on what it was I needed to keep in my for my last semester at UIC for undergrad.

My parents suggested that I should only take the class that I need to graduate, which would just be genetics lab (I pushed it off for far too long, haha!). They think I should focus only on studying for the MCAT, which is true, but that would be such a pointless semester! I want to take classes that I probably won’t get to take in medical school or have a chance to do until then. I also don’t think I would get financial aid for being part-time so that’d be another burned hole in my pocket. I discussed with a lot of friends and advisors, and clearly no one thinks I should take Polish. Even Polish people don’t think I should, lol!

But I talked to my roommate about it and she told me if I really wanted to take Polish, then I should! She definitely doesn’t think I should take 16 credit hours with all of my other obligations that I love to do/be a part of, so she suggested dropping biochemistry 2. After a quick thought, I instantly knew what was right! When she told me “well, it’s your last semester at UIC…you should enjoy it and do what you want,” I was set on taking Polish like I planned to since last year. My mood has been really upbeat since these decisions, even though I am super tired all the time with the late shifts I have at my scribing job at Rush. I just need to eat bananas and I’ll be good to go, haha! I think I only wanted to take biochemistry 2 to be challenged, but I heard the instructor was very monotone and boring (and that the class is insanely hard and you just memorize like a mad man). I’ll save it for medical school; after all, it’s not like they offer Polish language in medical school.

Live it up UIC! Undergraduate studies is a great place to explore what you love (and don’t love). I sure wish I got to experience even more, but I am happy with my path and can’t wait for next semester to be at my most fullest potential. If you’re not interested in school, well, at least you’ve got Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years to look forward to. 2014, here we come!

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!

Page 10 of 35« First...891011122030...Last »