Stressed Out? Take a Hike.

We’re so fortunate at Utica College to be not-too far from one of the most beautiful national forest reserves in the entirety of the United States. Literally, head up north for just an hour and you’ll be submersed in mountains and trees and glorious fresh air; it’s something every UC student should experience at least once.

This Sunday one of the RA’s in the First Year Village was holding a floor event where people could sign up to go for a hike. I signed up once I knew there were enough spots left, and convinced a friend to tag along. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky it wasn’t too hot in the sun-it was literally “just right.”

The hike was up Bald Mountain which is just outside of the Old Forge area. It’s a relatively easy hike and barely takes a half hour to submit the top. There isn’t too much fancy-footwork required, but there are a view rock faces you have to scale. My philosophy is, “if that dog can do it, so can I.” The views at the top, however, are beautiful and well worth the climb.

So, if you find yourself stressed and in need of some nature-time: head up to the mountains, gain some perspective, and enjoy the view.

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(The view from the top of Bald Mountain.)
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(Courtney and Gator attempting some relaxing yoga at the summit.)
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(George and I scoping out the view.)
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Welcome Back! Now Go Be Productive.

Welcome back to UC! We’re now almost a month into the semester and everything seems to be settling down. The first week jitters are long gone and the people are finally starting to remember their schedules, without double checking room numbers. Also, people are getting a hang of rolling out of bed right before class, as opposed to the whole “let-me-look-my-best” thing, and with that the semester can be considered fully in-swing.

With that being said, I love the in-swingness of a semester. (Apologies for the made-up terminology.) The routine of going to classes and scheduling out breaks can be the best way to lead a productive life …in my honest opinion. So, this blog post is dedicated to the minor “Type A” person in all of us.

Get into a routine! Every second of your life does NOT have to be planned out. But it does help if you consistently do things a certain way, because your body does adapt. Have you ever woken up early on a weekend, without an alarm? Your body is used to getting up that early, and just expected it. (Annoying, right?) But also helpful. So, maybe plan out a consistent library schedule. Or gym schedule. Plan to work out at a specific time every Monday, that way your body (and ultimately you) can expect it.

Write out the semester! Those syllabi that every one of your professors handed you on the first day? Useful. Look through that for important deadlines. Write all of them down. (Now would be a good time to buy a planner if you don’t already have one.) Don’t just write down tests. Write down any little thing the professor mentioned on a specific day; there was a reason why they mentioned them!

Look into events! Be on the lookout for events going on on-campus that you might want to be involved in! There is always something going on, so why not be involved with it! If you see something happening write it down in your planner so you don’t forget! Go to things! Be involved. Ya know, the speel. Have fun and all that.

So, those are just a few tips for the semester. I’ll be sure to have more as the semester goes on. But, for now, welcome back and have a good next few months!

 

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Enjoy your Summer!

Finals are over! Graduation has passed! And with the utmost certainty I can say that summer is here! Celebrate. Sleep for 10 hours (like I did as soon as my last final and responsibilities were over!) Summer is a magical time where the days are beautiful (and sometimes sweltering) yet the nights are cool and long. Sorry if I’m waxing poetic here, but I just love summer.

Often during the summer the days seem so long that there isn’t a need to make a schedule or to prioritize activities. Well, this is true on some days…but please, the scary type-a in me is asking you to have some structure some of the time.

Plan for whats to come. Believe me, I love to ignore the responsibilities I have and try to push off the future, but you can only push it off for so long… So, figure out what’s next! If you’re going to be a senior (like me) then plan for whats next after college. Do you need to take the LSAT, the GRE, the MCAT and any, or all, of the other letter abbreviated tests? Plan for that! I just registered to take the LSAT in October…so I plan to study for that all summer. If you are an undergraduate and need to get an internship in before you graduate, try for one over the summer! Or, make the connections required to have one next summer.

Take advantage of sales. It’s the end of the semester for almost everyone! So, often, school supplies will be in the clearance bin. Buy them now! I always stock up on pens during sales because you can get them for 9 cents at the right time! Never spend more than $1 for a pack of pens again. Hoard the school supplies until the semester starts, and you’ll be good to go.

 Think about what worked (and what didn’t). Looking back on this semester, I realize that some of my study habits were not the best. I would either study crazy intensely but only a few days before an exam, or I would lazy study for a few weeks before the exam. I need to figure out a method that works somewhere in the middle of those two styles. I plan on buying a mini whiteboard I can use to study with, because I seem to respond well to writing things out (yet don’t want to waste the paper!) So, think about your learning style and plan for that!

Enjoy. Have fun this summer! Go to the beach, or spend a day reading your favorite book! Marathon your favorite Netflix show (Orange is the New Black anyone?) Spend time with your family and friends, and be happy you have this time. Worry about school and life stuff only when you have to. For the rest of that time, enjoy your summer!

(My friend Mary and I were overjoyed to be done with our semesters!)
(My friend Mary and I were overjoyed to be done with our semesters!)

 

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You’ve Got This.

The last day of finals is tomorrow! And if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling pretty burnt out.  I have one more exam tomorrow morning and then I am done! (WOOOO!!) I know a lot of people that have exams tomorrow morning and night, so here are some tips to push through that last day.

Get a good night’s rest. Go to bed early tonight! Don’t stay up late trying to cram everything in. Wake up early in the morning and do a last minute review. I’m honestly exhausted from the entire week and have not been sleeping much…which is all adding up. I don’t want to be so groggy and tired during my last final that I can’t think properly. So I’m heading to bed as early as I possibly can. Plus, its easier to look over your notes when the sun is rising…it feels super productive, believe me.

Ignore all previously completed exams. Do not stress over any grades you may or may not receive. Pretend the exam yesterday and the paper you finished last night never existed. They’re done! Worry about those grades (if you must) after you are completely done with finals.

Eat a good (maybe bland) breakfast! During finals week I get into the bad habit of forgetting to eat for the longest time, and then eating too much when I did eventually sit down to grab a bite. My stomach is not thrilled with me at the moment, and I plan on eating oatmeal tomorrow morning to help make it feel better. Having a stomach ache during your last exam would not be the best physical state to be in.

Stay as long as you can! It’s tempting to finish your last final as soon as you possibly can and then high tail it out of there…believe me, I also want to. But. Don’t. Avoid temptation. Summer will still be there for you when you get out that extra hour later. Use that time to look over answers and be sure you fully completed every question. Don’t rush! I know that antsy feeling comes along, but ignore it. Only leave the exam room when you are completely sure you have finished everything to the best of your ability.

Good luck with the rest of your finals! You’ve all got this!

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Campus Yard Sale!

This semester I took a biology senior seminar class that focused on urban ecology. While we discussed the several different viewpoints there are to an urban ecosystem, the one thing we emphasized throughout the entire semester was the need for urban environments to head more toward the direction of sustainability.

We talked about what it meant to be eco-friendly and why we felt it was essential for smaller urban ecosystems, such as the Utica College campus, to become more environmentally aware. We brainstormed different ideas and tried to think of ways to improve the ecological footprint that our entire campus gives off.  (An ecological footprints is the measure of demand that a person or people put on the earth and its resources.)

One idea we came up with was to promote the idea of reusing and recycling items. Often, at move out, students will throw away items they no longer have use for, or simply cannot bring home due to lack of space. That is a huge waste of resources! (And move out is often a sad site to see the garbage containers over flowing with items that should not be there.)

So, our class decided to host a campus yard sale. All donations are welcomed, and encouraged from both students, and faculty/staff. This event is a great opportunity for items to be “revived” and get a second home. You know that saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, this event is made with that principle in mind. Also, all proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Utica Zoo to aid in their own conservation efforts.

So, if you want to donate items you no longer have a use for, there are donations bins in every single residence hall, as well as outside of Gordon 173. Please reflect on your own ecological footprint and consider donating those items which might have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

Also, be sure to stop by the actual yard sale! It will be held Wednesday May 13, the last day of finals! It’s from 12:30-5:00 in Strebel Lounge. 

Yard Sale Flyer

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Things to Do: Utica Edition Part 2

It’s study day and honestly, where did the time go? I feel like just last week it was February. But, now the sun seems to be here to stay and the area is getting greener and brighter with every passing day. The initial change of a season is my favorite time. (From summer to autumn, winter to spring-the transitions always feel so new and fresh.)

If you remember, I wrote a blog post about things to do in Utica during the wintery/colder season. (Check it out here) So, I figured since Spring is upon us, I would scope out some fun activities to do outside.

Head to the Utica Zoo!

The Utica Zoo is located off of the Utica Parkway, so it is not even 10 minutes from campus! The zoo boasts numerous types of animals and is a fun place to pass an afternoon. My favorite little animal buds are the alpacas. There’s also numerous bird species, invertebrate species, and so many others to oogle and aw at!

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(This goat was too cute. He ate right from my hand!)
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(There’s a great view of the city at the top of the zoo! It’s a must see!)

 

Every time I head to the zoo I make it a point to take as many pictures as possible.  And I encourage you to do the same! Admission to the zoo won’t break the bank, and you’ll probably have enough to grab some fries from the Voss’ food stand while you’re there!

Find a good mountain to hike!

Utica College is super close to the Adirondacks, maybe 45-1hr away! So I always take advantage of that. Located throughout the northern region are numerous mountain peaks, and hiking adventures you can embark on. My friends and I love to hike up Bald Mountain, near Old Forge, every year. There’s also Rocky Moutain right close by, so you can climb two peaks in a day if you’re feeling up for it! My family also hikes Panther Mountain, which is on Piseco Lake.

(My friends and I stopped for a group pic during a hike last summer!)
(My friends and I stopped for a group pic during a hike last summer!)

There are so many places to choose from, and they’re all free! So hiking is a great way to blow off some finals steam, and de-stress!

Head to the Canal Trail!

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(My friends and I always go and hang out at the lock. Here we were listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album for the first time last summer!)

For those that might be unaware, Utica actually had the old Erie Canal run right through it. (Where I live in Whitesboro, at the very end of a road not too far from mine is an Erie Canal Memorial area which is dedicated right where it used to run!) Some parts of the canal are actually still in tact, and are still used today. There is a lock not to far from Utica College that is one of my favorite places to just relax and hang out.

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The canal is great because it’s another free(!) spot to hang out and relax. Also, it’s closer to campus than hiking in the Adirondacks…so you can still get your taste of nature, just closer to home!

(My friends, Mary, Pat, and I, enjoy the occasional frog hunt both on campus and at the canal!)
(My friends, Mary, Pat, and I, enjoy the occasional frog hunt both on campus and at the canal!)

There are so many things to do in Utica! So soak up the last bit of the semester and explore the area! After a final head on down to the lock and de-stress! Or head to the Utica Zoo and make a new friend! Just whatever you do, have fun and I hope you give these activities a try!

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Moose Madness!

Moose Madness (previously titled, Moose-A-Palooza) was this past week! It’s basically a week long host of events that are free for students! Typically it is the last (or second to last) full week of classes, and ends on the saturday with some big event. Plus! They always have cool tshirts that students can score for free with their student ID!

The big event at the end of this year’s festivities was the much-hyped concert put on by WPNR 90.7 (Utica College’s radio station) as well as the Utica College Programming Board (UCPB.) The performers were the X Ambassadors with the Royal Tongues as their openers. Unfortunately, I had to work an admissions event before the concert, and then had to catch up on school work while it was happening, so I’m super bummed I missed it. I did hear from some people (of the loads that went!) how great of a show it was!

But, Saturday was not the only day of fun. Monday there was a picture scavenger hunt, Tuesday a decades trivia game, on Wednesday they had a hypnotist…and the list goes on! Not only did UCPB put on tons of fun events, multiple other organizations took advantage of the fun-filled week and held their own events as well. Chi Beta Sigma’s airband was held on the Saturday after the concert and it was a great time had by all in attendance. The art gallery also held a scavenger hunt around campus based on tricky clues.

I took part in multiple activities during the week, but I am proud to say that a few friends and I were the winners of the picture scavenger hunt that was held the Monday of Moose Madness. It was a lot of fun running around campus and trying to find the various clues.

Moose Madness in general is just a week long of fun events to help students de-stress and relax a bit before the stress of finals sets in. So, if you didn’t take advantage of all of the free fun this year, be sure to check it out next year! It’s always one of my favorite things about Utica College. (Check out some of my fav pics from the scavenger hunt below!)

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Dr. Hutton Takes on Senior Sem

This semester I’m taking a senior seminar course as a junior. For biology majors, it is required to take a senior seminar, senior research, or a practicum in biology. So, I decided to get a jump on it and added the class to my schedule this semester.

The cool thing about the biology senior seminar is that the topic changes every semester! Two semesters ago it was focused on conservation biology and the class was so well received that they decided to make it an actual course, which I took (and literally loved) last semester. This semester the senior seminar is focused on urban ecology.

The first few weeks of class we went over various case studies and developed a working definition for what urban ecology means to us. Now we’re in the midst of planning a green initiative yard sale for the end of the semester (so people don’t have to throw away things at move out!)  Another aspect to the class now is that we have various guest speakers come in and talk to us about the different facets and multitudes to urban ecology.

This past week President Hutton came in to speak to our class. As all Utica College students, faculty, and staff are aware, our president is actively involved in many campus activities. He is also actively involved with the city of Utica. He is currently a member of the city board and gives input on various issues. (He has been a member of several city planning communities throughout the country!)

He also told our (enraptured) class about the various conservation efforts he and various other Utica College officials have taken to ensure our campus is staying up to date in the world of sustainability.

Did you know Utica College (along with the hospital) was the first school to produce its own energy? I had no clue! That building back behind Burrstone Hall is actually a microgrid that produces energy that is used by the hospital and our campus. During the day the micrgrid produces about 80% of our energy and the other 20% is supplemented from National Grid. At night, all of the energy being used on the campus is produced by the microgrid.

The campus is also looking into other sustainable options. Unfortunately full solar power for the campus is simply not a feasible option as of now. However, they are looking to put solar panels in above the pool in the athletic center so it can be heated that way! Little steps add up!

It was definitely a really cool experience to have the president of Utica College come in and talk to my senior seminar class. We’re only a class of 7, yet he still treated us as if we were a larger class. He asked us our opinions and seemed genuinely interested in our thoughts. I got to talk about my favorite issues, and felt like my opinions were actually being heard. It was probably my favorite class hour that I’ll ever have at Utica College! 11160059_1103963916285608_7854584658554039119_o

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Be The Change!

Student Senate applications have been emailed out to the entire campus…so fill it out! Being a part of Student Senate is such a rewarding experience, and I strongly recommend everyone get involved. (Student Senate meets every other Wednesday at 3:00p in Bell Conference room.)

(After senate is a great time to take pictures, because everyone is dressed to impress!)
(After senate is a great time to take pictures, because everyone is dressed to impress!)

If filling out an application and being elected seems daunting, never fear! It’s not! The elections committee has streamlined the process and the only large piece to the application is 250 words on why you want the position you’re applying for. That’s relatively simple when compared to other application processes…

(Just some members of senate at a full body meeting. Shout out to Dean Varga!)
(Just some members of senate at a full body meeting. Shout out to Dean Varga!)

Honestly, being a part of Student Senate makes you feel a bit like you’re working “behind the scenes.” Whenever faculty or staff need student opinion, they head to student senate. All orgs have to be recognized by the full senate before they can be considered an actual organization on the Utica College campus. Any time an organization requests funding they first meet before the finance committee (which is an extension of senate) and then the full body senate! Student Senate helps to make things happen, and you can be a part of that!

I’ve been involved with senate since I was a sophomore. Now I am currently the Junior Class Treasurer. I love getting dressed up every other week and attending meetings. It feels I am actually helping Utica College to function as a collegiate institution, and hopefully making it just a little bit of a better place.

There are several different positions you can run for, go and check the application out!

(The full-body senate supporting one of our international senators last semester.)
(The full-body senate supporting one of our international senators last semester.)
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Looking Back…

It’s almost the end of the semester, which means my junior year of college is drawing to a close. It’s so strange that next year I’m going to be a senior in college…senior year of high school doesn’t even feel like it was that long ago! But the truth of the matter is, my days at Utica College are quickly drawing to a close. I will only have two more semesters before I can call myself a college graduate. (!!!)

As I was thinking over my junior year, I realized that this year (both fall and spring) has been filled with events and happenings that have helped to shape who I am as a person, as well as influence my decisions toward my future. I actually plan to write a huge lookback over my entire time at Utica College right before I graduate, but (for now) I give you some of my musings on my junior year.

I joined a new (unexpected) organization. I love being involved on campus; I try to be an active participant in multiple organizations here at Utica College. However, most of the organizations I am involved with are expected (if people know me or my major.) So, one day I saw a flier for a trip to Sleepy Hallow (of Headless Horseman fame) and decided to tag along with the History club that was sponsoring the trip. I met loads of great (and interesting!) individuals by attending, and even became a member of the organization. I never even knew the history club had such a presence on the Utica College campus, but now I know and am a part of it. It’s fun to do new things, and meet people you wouldn’t potentially meet.

I stood up for myself. College is a time when a lot of people are forming friendships and making connections for life. However, sometimes the friends you make in college are only meant to be your friends for a short time; they influence your life, and then you go your separate ways. I was friends with people of whom I love dearly and wish the world for, but eventually our personalities and interests just did not mesh well. The breaking point came when I voiced my concerns and was met with resistance and little to no effort. I couldn’t see myself continuing on with that friendship, and that is completely okay. I didn’t want to abandon what I believe is important and healthy in a friendship.  It isn’t a crime to let go of things that you no longer think are beneficial. In the end, it only matters if you are happy and what makes you feel the best.

I learned to let things go. I have already mentioned that I am an active participant in several organizations on campus, but sometimes being that involved can seem daunting. Normally I do not mind having a full schedule, I like keeping busy! However, I realized that I couldn’t possibly attend every single club meeting that I had and still be able to complete hw/go to work/sleep etc. So, I made the decision to step back from an organization I was a part of. I made sure to let the president know I was going to be an inactive member, yet I still wanted to receive minutes. I’m glad I recognized that I just couldn’t possibly do everything I wanted to do; doing too many things causes stress, and your attention to be too divided.

I stopped being so hard on myself. A bad grade is not the end of the world. Tests are important, but do not require loss of sleep to feel confident about. My junior year I came even more to terms with the fact that not everyone can succeed at everything; people have things they are good at, as well as things they are bad at. My junior year of college brought my highest test grade ever (a 100 on a test in a bio course!) as well as my lowest test grade ever (I failed…and then some.) However, I have learned to take pride in the little things. Physics has been one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, and instead of getting upset that I don’t understand major concepts…I try to celebrate my little victories. If I answer a question right during lecture, just that can make my entire week.

Positivity goes a long way. I’ve always tried to be a positive person, but this semester I really amped it up. My mother has always believed in the power of positive thinking, and shared with me some of her readings and videos when I started to focus on the negative aspects of my life. Now I try to focus on the good rather than the bad. If I have a super busy week I don’t project that I’m upset about it, I try to enjoy the packed schedule…it’s better than being bored! You should always attempt to see the twist or the positive side of things, it can change your whole world view!

So this post detailed my little stories of personal growth over my junior year at Utica College. Look back for another post when I highlight some of my favorite events that I attended. (I’m saving that one just because I’m so psyched for all of the events coming up!) I encourage everyone to look back on their own year here at Utica College, you may be surprised at how far you’ve come!

(Leadership weekend. 2014. This was one of the most stressful, yet life-changing days of my life. I'm terrified of heights, yet I still did it. Yes, I cried and almost gave up, but I didn't. And that's what matters.)
(Leadership weekend. 2014. This was one of the most stressful, yet life-changing days of my life. I’m terrified of heights, yet I still did it. Yes, I cried and almost gave up, but I didn’t. And that’s what matters.)
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