Embrace Your Inner Nerd: Do Research!

I think the term “nerd” has a negative connotation for absolutely no reason. I take pride when someone calls me a nerd, and so should you! Nerds are typically people who are super interested in a certain topic (or several topics!) and I don’t see how that could possibly be seen as a bad thing. In fact, I want people to think that I’m super interested in almost everything I do! What’s the point in doing something you’re not interested in?

I think, by far, the nerdiest thing that people associate with me is my major; I’m a biology major. But I love my major. It is so interesting to learn about so many different things, and, plus, my major affords me the opportunity to take an active part in my learning…I can do research.

(Disclaimer! Sooo many majors give people the opportunities to do research, not just biology. My friend is a psychology major who is doing research on sexual kinks and habits, so it doesn’t have to be all super “sciencey” stuff.)

So, my botany class this semester requires a research project. Some of my friends and I decided to do something related to tree cores, or dendrochronology, and the rest is…history. We did a load of work, and then went a bit further; we were given the opportunity to present our research at the Northeast Natural History Conference, which was located in Springfield Massachusetts this year.

(Mary Brockett and I discussing our research with a fellow conference attendee.)

(We explored Springfield, Massachusetts which is where our conference was held. …It was super windy.)

So here’s some tips for how to maybe start (and eventually present!) your own research.

1.) Choose something that interests you.

Pick a thing you “nerd” out about! I’m a huge environmental person, and once my group decided to look into tree cores being influenced by climate change, I was “hooked.” Make sure you want to do something because you want to, not just because your professor wants you to. You’re going to be spending a ton of time looking further into your selected subject matter, so it should definitely be something you’re at least a little bit interested in.

(Farwa Dalawar and I are clearly super interested in tree cores, and snowfall records.)

2.) Don’t get discouraged.

Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you expected. …But, in all honesty, when do things ever go exactly as planned? If your research goes exactly as you expected, then I envy you. There are always going to be little bumps along the way, just assess the bump, work through it, and move on.

3.) Be proud of your work.

Research takes ages, and when you’re done with it you have the right to be proud of it. Even if you didn’t find the cure to some crazy horrible disease, your findings still deserve to be documented. So once you find what you find, tell people about it! Don’t feel ashamed. You have a right to brag, so do it.

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(My group and my research poster is hanging in Gordon…I flail around it every so often.)

So there’s that. Find something that interests you, stick to it, and then have something to brag about. Being a researching nerd really isn’t that hard after all, is it?



Expand Your Horizons: Study Abroad

It’s Thurday, so here’s a throwback.

During the Fall ’13 semester I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I’m Irish, and I’ve always wanted to go, so I started looking into the study abroad program at Utica during my freshman year. The process is easy once you decide where you want to go. Utica College connects to multiple universities around the world, and they even connect to the schools that Syracuse University connects to; the countries you can choose from are nearly endless.

Before I left the United States (my first time out of the country by myself!) I made a promise to myself, that I would be open to any opportunity. I wasn’t going to waste an opportunities!

I took pictures with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I didn’t want to miss out on the super touristy things, so I wasn’t afraid to stop and grab a picture at any time. This was one was on our way home from class.


I was lucky enough to book a trip to France, and was able to see Paris. I also took a crazy amount of pictures there.

…I did all the “touristy” things in London as well.

My friends and I toured the Guiness factory, something I would have thought would be crazy boring…but beer being made is actually a really interesting process. Plus, the view from the top of the building, of the entire city of Dublin, is amazing.

I attended “tea” with the United States Ambassador to Ireland in Oscar Wilde’s home….and then took a picture with Oscar Wilde’s bust.

I hiked anywhere you could in Ireland…as soon as someone suggested a trip, I was down for it.

Bascially, this post is more than a backdoor brag. Studying abroad was one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done…because it allowed me to do so many things. As soon as someone suggested something, I was down for it. I didn’t see a point in sitting around in foreign country and doing nothing. I went to museums, fairs, comedy clubs, and just wandered around. I was able to immerse myself in other cultures, and I think I am all the better for it. I (like to think that I) am more outgoing, more open minded, and more willing to try different things.

So. Seriously. If you want to expand your viewpoint, and broaden your horizons, look into studying abroad.


How To Survive With No Sleep.

Going to college means having a workload waaaaaaaaaaaaay more intense than what you may be used to. Between homework, projects, studying for tests, and reviewing your notes, classes take up a huge chunk of time. Plus, you probably have a job, and a social life. …So sleep doesn’t really factor into the mix all of the time.

Running on little-to-no sleep is hard. …but not impossible. (Just be sure to not do this all the time. Reserve it for those crunch times during the semester.)

Stay Away From Caffeine

I know, counter-intuitive. But, hear me out. Caffeine causes a “jolt” in your body, but soon after you’re going to crash. And you’ll be worse than you were before. If you must, only have a cup of coffee, or one energy drink; don’t guzzle them down.

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(If I’m advocating against coffee then you know I mean it…as evidenced by my affinity for coffee…and taking pictures of myself while drinking it.)

Stay away from carbs, focus on proteins.

Chips, pretzels, bread, and all those other carb-ladden foods cause a spike in blood sugar…which then may cause drowsiness to set in. Try to eat proteins such as nuts, peanut butter, and cottage cheese. Try to eat throughout the day, and not have huge meals.

(Peanut butter is a good high protein food to eat when tired.)

Take Cat Naps

http://sleepyti.me/ This website is pretty cool. You can use it to calculate when you should wake up in order to get the most efficiency out of your rest time. (It calculates the average human REM cycles and then gives you suggested times to wake up when you are least likely to interrupt a cycle) I’m not actually sure if it works, but I always feel more refreshed after I use it…so give it a try, who knows?


(A snapchat someone sent me…of me. …sleeping.)

Remember, any sleep is better than no sleep. Pulling all-nighters is actually super bad for you though, so I don’t recommend it.

So, next time you’re exhausted check yourself and try to do these things, they’ll totally help.




You Did Badly on an Exam…You’ll Be Okay.

During my freshman year here at Utica I was insanely hard on myself about tests. Any bad grade and I would beat myself up about it for ages. …Which, I realize now, is not fair.


(Now I’m just sad for a bit, and then I move on.)

Tests are not the end-all-be-all; it may feel like it when professors throw around, “But it’s 15% of your grade!” But it is okay. Most professors try to scare you into studying, which you should do anyway, but there are ways around a bad grade, such as working to complete your homework on time, participating in class, etc. But, if you can’t stop thinking about that bad test here are some tips:

(Note: these tips only work for those who actually studied. If you get a bad grade because you simply didn’t try then these will not apply for you.)

First of all, just move on. Do not dwell on one bad grade. It’s alright to be upset about it, but if you’re still mad a few days later then you are focusing too much on that one test. Look forward. Try to focus on how you’re going to ace the next test.

(Your next test grade!)

 Change up the way you study. Maybe your bad grade was because your study method just wasn’t working. If you only ever re-read the notes, try re-writing them, and maybe reading your textbook as well. I found that, personally, I study better when I’m being asked questions. So, I make review sheets with questions based on my notes, and then I answer those questions.

Also. Check out how you study. Do you study by yourself? With a group of people? Maybe group studying just doesn’t work for you, or maybe it shouldn’t be the only way you study. Try to switch up who you study with.

(The show Community was based on a group of students who formed a study group.)

Lastly, look at your study environment.

I can not study in the library during the day. I can only go at night when I know there won’t be that many people there. I get distracted so easily. However, maybe you are a person that needs the motivation of going to the library, and being surrounded by books…and general “scholarly-ness.”

(The Utica College Library….a frequent study spot for some.)

I also haaaaaave to listen to music while studying, but nothing with words! I find I focus best on material while listening to classical music. I usually play Pachelbel’s Canon in D, on repeat, for as long as I’m studying. I do switch it up sometimes though. However, you should look into if you’re a music person or not. I know some people who need dead silence before they can even think about studying.

So, next time you get a bad test grade, which I hope doesn’t happen(!), don’t fret. Take a breath, then evaluate why you got that grade. You’ll be alright.


How To Be Stress-Free.

Being stress-free may be a challenging goal for most people, but there are ways to decrease the amount of stress you feel on a daily basis, especially with midterms right around the corner.

Personally, I do not handle stress well. I know this and live up to it. I do, however, try to reduce the amount of stress I feel on a daily basis. Here are some quick (and easy!) tips I have learned and have asked of others for how to reduce how stressed you feel.

1. Exercise!

Photo: Yoga with Jeff today was a success! Thank you to everyone who came out to support. Keep a look out for the next class.

(A picture from the yoga class I attended that the Utica College Medical Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta put on.)

I find yoga incredibly relaxing. (And if you’re like me, there is going to be another charity yoga class put on soon, which you can attend!) However, if “namaste” really isn’t your thing, you can run, walk, lift weights, go crazy with the Insanity program, or do anything that gets you moving more than usual. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t go crazy from stress.

2. Make Lists!

Write down what you have to do. I’m one of those people that writes down every. single. thing. I would forget something if I didn’t have it down on a post-it, or in a list. Also, you feel extra great when you get to cross something off your list. Being productive makes people feel happy. Happy=less stress.

3. Schedule Free Time!

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(A picture I tweeted last year from my personal planner)

This is a joke, I obviously don’t have to plan to be spontaneous. However, sometimes people forget. When you have so much to do, and so many classes requiring different things, you sometimes get so caught up in doing all the work. Take a break. Breathe. Watch some TV. Go creep on Facebook for a bit – whatever you can do to take your mind off of the work for a while;  just that small time off can help you destress.

4. Sleep!

(Brittany Thompson taking a nap in public.)

Take some time to sleep. Write it in your schedule if you have to. People get mean when they’re tired. Or people who are tired….are tired. When you’re tired you’re more susceptible to being irritable, being depressed, and increasing your stress levels. So, destress, take a nap.

5. Eat! (Regular Meals!)


(When you’re stressed you should vary your diet. Eat fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and be sure to get good sources of protein.)

When I’m working along, I tend to forget to grab a meal, and when I’m hungry I just grab a quick bite by eating a granola bar or an apple. When you’re stressed, you should vary what you eat. Eat a wide variety of foods. Make Michelle Obama happy and choose foods from each part of the pyramid.

So, may the force be with you this midterms (and extra stressful) season, you can do it.



Spring Has Sprung! Maybe?

The current temperature in Utica, New York is 37°  Fahrenheit. If you’re anything like me, you are currently jumping for joy. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. I love being able to wear scarves and sweaters, and I love tromping around in the snow. But I hate being freezing and shoveling snow. So by the time March rolls around, I’m pretty ready for a change. 

(A picture from last weekend’s Heart Run and Walk. I was clearly over the cold.)

Spring makes me think of flowers, fresh vegetables, and fresh air. Do not lie, spring air smells crisper than winter air; it’s a thing. …and I may have driven home from class with my car windows down a bit. It was a tad chilly, but so worth it.

(The ASA Gray Biological society planted vegetables this past week. Very “Spring-like behavior.”)

One of my favorite events on campus last year was an event in celebration of spring, Holi. It is a Hindu celebration commonly known as “The Festival of Colors.” People get together and throw non-toxic “color” at each other as a way of ushering in the spring season.


(One of my favorite pictures from last year’s celebration.)

I’ve been told that the coordinators of the event are planning to do it again this year, which I sincerely hope they do. Matty Campos, a student at UC and an individual involved with the planning of the event said, “It will def. happen.” So, I’m taking that as a positive thing, and will count on the event.

It really is one of my favorite things about the spring semester though. It is so much fun being able to throw colored powder at random people. However, be sure to close your mouth because the stuff tastes horrible. It is a great event, and once information starts going up about it, I encourage everyone to get involved! It is so much fun.

(I got color in my mouth last year, not very nice.)

So while I patiently wait for spring (and Holi!) to actually be here, I’ve been told that the temperatures are supposed to drop again heading into next week. I’m disappointed and sad…but I’ll take the little bit of Spring-like weather while we have it! I’m going to take full advantage by blasting Miley Cyrus while driving with the windows down, no shame.


Ally Week: How Utica College’s Gay-Straight Alliance is Spreading Equality

March 3rd-7th is Ally Week here at Utica College! Throughout the week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), the Gay-Straight Alliance will be posted outside the caf from 12-2 pm. There, you can find a photoshoot area, complete with rainbow flag, where you can take your very own “No H8” picture.

(My own “No H8”  ally picture.)

The concept of the photoshoot comes from the successful campaign venture started in California by the No H8 Organization in protest of “Proposition 8.” Proposition 8 was a state constitutional amendment by the state of California which many felt violated the rights of LGBTQIA individuals. The proposition was passed in 2008, and then ruled unconstitutional in 2010. Despite the proposition no longer being relevant, the idea behind the campaign still remains valid: Equality.

(No H8 supporters, Francis S. Bartkowiak and Georgie Archundia)

The club encourages EVERYONE to come out and show your support; support for the equality of ALL people. The emphasis is on “Ally” week, however, and if you are an individual that identifies as straight, you are equally encouraged to come take a picture!

(Karita Rawlins, Courtney Hryniowski, and Me: Straight Allies)

(Jesse Haggerty, Proud GSA Member)

So come on out this week (March 3rd-7th) and help encourage people to love, and live, freely.