How to Survive Night Class If You’re Not a Night Owl

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Photo from camelcitydispatch.com

Some people thrive in night classes. In fact, some people actually prefer to take them  because night classes are generally only one night out of the week as opposed to the typical Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday combination.

However, there are also a lot of folks like me who would much rather take an earlier class, and often avoid night classes like the plague. On top of not being an evening person, I am also night-blind (it’s a legitimate genetic condition; look it up), so driving at night is a struggle. Night classes are basically my worst nightmare.

I successfully avoided taking any until this semester in my senior year when two classes I needed to take were only offered at night. I’m sure many of you have run into this as well, and the most we can do is suck it up.

But there are ways to make it more bearable, tolerable even.

  1. Start by looking on the bright side. You only have to take this class once a week! That means less trips to campus and less days to worry about the class in general. It also usually means you have more time in between classes to get your assignments done. If you play your cards right, this could mean having a day or two off except for the night class(es).
  2. Learn to reverse your homework schedule. If you’re like me and you’re used to getting your homework done at night, you’re going to have to learn to switch that around on the days you have night classes. Get your work done early in the day so you don’t have to tackle it when you roll in at 10 o’ clock at night.
  3. Eat a light dinner beforehand. You want to make sure you’re not going to class on an empty stomach because that’s miserable and distracting, but you also want to make sure you don’t overeat so you aren’t uncomfortably full during class.
  4. Check the weather a day or two in advance. This only applies to commuters, but you want to be prepared if you’re going to have bad weather while traveling at night. Plan to leave a few minutes early so you can take your time. Also get your professor’s cell number so you can contact them if the weather is making it completely impossible for you to finish the trip safely.
  5. Carpool, if possible. Again, this is just for commuters, but you can arrange to carpool with a friend, switching off each week. Driving at night is just annoying, so it helps to share the burden. Plus, you can make it a point to stop and get ice cream or something on the way home, giving you something to look forward to.
  6. Bring snacks. Your mind is bound to wander during three straight hours of class, so keep yourself focused with energizing snacks. Just be wary of the super loud and crunchy snacks like carrots and chips that could be distracting in class.
  7. Ideally, have a classmate walk to your car with you. There’s safety in numbers, people!
  8. If that’s not possible, call a friend or family member while you’re walking to the car. Have a safeword agreed upon so if anything happens, you can say it to them so they can call the police for you. I know this stuff is ominous, but it’s good to be prepared.
  9. Don’t go the gym right beforehand. Okay, this one is really just for me. I took a cardio fitness class right before my night class and didn’t have time to shower or cool down in between. It was rough.
  10. Caffeine! An obvious one, but essential. If you’re not a night owl, you’re going to need a little pick-me-up in order to stay focused at the end of the day.
  11. Don’t wear uncomfortable clothing. It’s college; nobody cares if you wear sweats, and you aren’t going to want to sit there in your Sunday’s best at 9 o’ clock at night.
  12. Get a friend to take the class with you. Even if it’s not related to their major, there’s a good chance they can get elective or liberal arts credits for it. And obviously, class is a heck of a lot more fun with a buddy.

What are your opinions on night classes? Are you a night owl or a morning person?

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The Blame Game Won’t Fix Negative Female Body Images

short and fat pooh

In one of my communication classes, we have a lot of interesting discussions about gender differences and the effects of these differences on American society. In one of our conversations the other day, I watched the blame game play out: men vs. women arguing over whose fault it is that women feel pressured to meet an impossible physical appearance standard.

It’s no secret that these body image issues are particularly prevalent in college-age women. Eating disorders are frighteningly common among college students, and according to Brown University, “74.4% of the normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance ‘all the time’ or ‘frequently.'”

Photo by Brittney Sabo
Photo by Brittney Sabo

But can we really say this is because men have unrealistic expectations of women, or conversely, that women pressure each other into looking a certain way?

As I watched my classmates go back and forth defending their own gender and condemning the other, I realized herein lies the problem. If all we ever do is declare that the fault belongs to someone else, then we ourselves will never change.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short 20 years, it’s that you cannot change people who don’t want to change. The most you can do is work on improving yourself.

Of course, changing yourself isn’t much easier than changing someone else. In the past year, I have done a lot of work on self-improvement – not physically per se, but mentally. I used to be like many other women who look at 6-foot, stick thin models and flawless celebrities and felt the crushing self-criticism as I analyzed every difference, every thing I thought I lacked.

I’m 5’1″ and not stick-thin. I knew I couldn’t change my height, but I thought losing weight was the most important thing in the world. Slowly, I have been trying to change this mentality. I am trying to accept my body as unique and beautiful for what it is. It’s a simple enough concept, but an incredibly difficult process, and it’s easy to fall off track.

Here is the thing that fashion magazines don’t tell us: we’re all built differently; our bodies don’t do the same things. You and I could have the same diet and workout regime, and still look drastically different.

If you think about it, it’s sort of ridiculous that we should find one very specific body type beautiful when there is such a rainbow of body types out there. Why not embrace all the differences?

Everyone, including men, needs to try to join me in this process of changing our own thoughts. Don’t worry about anyone else right now; just concentrate on you. Start looking at your body differently, and when you feel those negative thoughts coming, remember that there are parts of you that other people are jealous of. Your beauty is different from everyone else’s, and that’s what makes you so incredible.

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Remember to be realistic. You can beat yourself up endlessly for not having longer legs, but is that going to change anything? Stop fighting yourself, because the second you start working what you’ve got, you’ll become exponentially more beautiful.

It’s all much easier said than done, but the first step to improving society’s feelings toward female body image is reevaluating our own thoughts first. The next time you look at a female and start picking out what’s “wrong” with her, stop and ask why you’re doing that. Is there really anything wrong with her, or is that just what you’ve been made to think? Are you just jealous of things she has that you don’t?

And don’t forget to include your own body in this. Unless your “problem” is endangering your health, it’s not a “problem” at all.

Change how you think; it’s infectious – others will follow.

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So You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

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I’ve stopped looking at Valentine’s Day as a day allotted for celebrating your sweetheart, and instead started looking at it as an excuse for celebrating whatever you love most. For me, that’s food, family, and cats. In that order.

It might seem hard to face V-Day alone, especially if you’re living on campus while your family is miles away and your roommate happens to have a hot date. But don’t let your relationship status get you down; there’s so much more to February 14th than romance.

If nothing else, V-Day is a great excuse to binge-eat chocolate, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. It’s also a good reason to show some love to yourself. You can make it a day about you, and use it to indulge and treat yourself more than you normally would. There are so many possibilities and so many reasons why it doesn’t have to stink.

The key is changing how you think. Get the idea of candle-lit dinners with a significant other out of your head. Yes, for some people, that’s what V-Day means. But for others, it has a whole different meaning. What means the most to you? What do you love? That should be what the day centers around.

There are plenty of things to do on Friday, Feb. 14th that will make it an awesome day regardless of your relationship status. You can have a movie marathon. It doesn’t have to be rom-coms; watch a marathon of blood and gore if that’s what you’re into. Just pick you favorites, pull on your pj’s, and settle in with a smorgasbord of snacks.

Here’s my favorite: eat as much chocolate as you want. Forget your diet; it’s one day out of the year. Grab as much chocolate as you can handle from the store then eat it with every meal: chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Nutella-peanut butter-banana sandwiches for lunch, your favorite dish with hot cocoa to drink for dinner, and endless chocolate candies for dessert.

It’s all about treating yourself. Grab another single friend and head to your favorite restaurant to indulge in comfort foods. Or, stay in and get your favorite take-out. You could even cook a fancy meal for your friends or family.

Heck, spoil your pets too while you’re at it. Make it a day of appreciation for them. I love my cats like they’re my children, so I’ll happily throw them a V-Day celebration. Animals are much easier to please than people anyway.

You could even go on a little shopping spree to treat yourself. Chances are, you’ll have the mall to yourself since all the lovebirds will be off having fancy dinners.

And, if nothing else, rejoice for the awesome sales on Valentine’s Day candy the day after.

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Is Moving Out Right for You?

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Photo by Jamie Callari

I didn’t choose to move out per say. I had every intention of living at home and commuting to school for my entire time at UC. However, my wonderful plan was torn to shreds when my parents decided to up and move right before my junior year.

I was faced with the difficult decision of moving out and being independent or following my parents during their move and having to transfer halfway through my college education. Neither option would be easy, so I ultimately decided I couldn’t give up the public relations program I am so passionate about at UC.

My whole moving out process happened in about two weeks, and it was a whirlwind of changes. I had to find an apartment ASAP, lug all my stuff there, and suddenly learn how to be an independent human being. This also meant that managing my food blog would be twice as hard and time-consuming without my mother to act as my sous-chef, camera woman, and grocery shopper.

I know; it doesn’t sound that appealing at first, does it? It certainly didn’t feel like it to me at the time. But weeks passed, and then months, and suddenly, I was settled in and functioning rather efficiently. Moving out of my parents’ house seemed daunting at first, but I was shocked at how quickly I adapted when forced to do so (and that sentence applies to almost any situation in life).

With moving out, you garner freedom. And I’m not talking about throwing wild parties; I’m talking about the ability to decide what you want to buy at the grocery store, how to decorate, how messy you can be, and whether or not you’re going to put pants on that day (unless your roommate(s) disagree with any of these things). Suddenly, there’s no authoritative, judgmental eye over you. And for the first time in your life, you really come into your own.

Yes, you take on a lot more responsibilities when you no longer live with your parents, but honestly, this is a good thing. You’re going to have to be an independent, functioning adult at some point, so this is like the trial run before graduation. You’re going to learn a lot of important things like the most efficient way to kill a spider and how to change light bulbs. And although these things might feel like a pain while they’re happening, you can’t help but beam with pride for yourself afterward.

Living independently allows you to focus. It gives you more clarity to think about what it is you want and how to get it. Sometimes it’s something as simple as getting your work done. Without having your family over your shoulders, doing homework and writing papers becomes a bit less about distractions. But you also have more room to pursue and think about your interests. You get to concentrate on you.

The best part is you don’t have to move out forever. Most parents will happily accept you back if you decide that’s what you want after some time. Now is the best time to try it; college is all about having flexibility in your lifestyle and trying new things so you can decide what you want for the rest of your life. Whether you’re moving into a dorm or choosing apartment life, moving out of your parents house will be better for you than you ever imagined. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge.

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The 8 websites that got me through college.

That’s one loaded post title. It implies I will really, actually, truly, in less than two weeks (O M G) graduate. Wow.

In true nostalgic fashion, I figured I’d share some of the sites that I’ve discovered in school that have helped me out academically, physically and mentally. I need all the help I can get.

1. VisualCVScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.25.07 PM

#ShamelessPlug. Let’s get the academic stuff out of the way off the bat, shall we? (P.S. look around the page right now and try to tell me you’re not creeped out by all the little pictures of my face. GO AHEAD, TRY.)

This website has helped me a lot when applying for jobs and internships! The page itself is set up pretty much like LinkedIn and looks like a virtual resume. Unlike LinkedIn though, VisualCV makes it super easy to upload documents, visual samples and audio clips into a portfolio section. This feature is really helpful, especially if you’re trying to get a job working with social media. Many applications for positions involving social media now require a blog URL or portfolio URL to be submitted, so having something like this handy is great!

2. CollegeRuledScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.31.05 PM

Keeping with the academic theme, this website makes plotting your strategies for battle, I mean “picking classes,” ridiculously easy. I’m a little old-school I suppose (Excel docs 4Evah), but this option was introduced to me last year and I have a feeling that if I’d known about it as a first-year student that I would’ve been all over it. (P.S. I only gave you half my schedule in the example above so you can only half stalk me. Boom.)

3. InstamotivationScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.46.41 PM

Let’s be honest, there’s something you should be doing right now that you’re not doing because you don’t want to and you’re thoroughly going to regret it right…. now. (Sorry.)

Instamotivation, which happens to be from the brilliant minds at Greatist, will hammer you with motivational phrases until you feel like you could climb Mount Everest, backflip down and then run a marathon at the bottom.

Then you’ll remember that you’re only writing a paper on the economic situation in Sri Lanka and get real sad again. But you’ll be super motivated!! E-C-O-N, who can do it? YOU CAN! (Again, I’m sorry. Instamotivation overdose.)

4. GreatistScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.41.58 PM

Greatist is one of the best websites I’ve found in a long time. The goal? To breakdown health, fitness and general wellness information to interesting and easily digestible bites. The site is littered with infographics, research-based articles (with “takeaways” at the bottom for those moments when you’re pressed for time), recipes and polls that ask some tough questions about the state of health and wellness in the country all in a conversational, easy-to-understand format. The unique angle of the articles makes this site one of the biggest ways I procrastinate, but I’m constantly learning so it’s not all bad right…?? Guys?

5. The OatmealScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 5.00.51 PM

This website literally makes me cry. Real tears. Real tears of wonderful, unrivaled joy. These comics are hysterical and most are based on current events (procrastination is justifiable in you’re learning, obviously.) Pretty sure laughing constitutes an ab workout too, so it’s like a win-win.

6. What to Wear ToolScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.14.09 PM

For all my fellow runners! Plug in a few different details about yourself and the conditions outside, and the tool will tell you what to wear. No thinking involved. None. Nada. Zip. I need one of these for like, my life. Someone tell Mark Remy to get on that.

 7. Tone It UpScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.55.25 PM

Next we’ve got Tone It Up! I started following the site about two years ago because I was bored with my workouts. Karena and Katrina, the girls who run Tone It Up, create, film and distribute free workouts on their site. And let’s be honest, free is every college student’s middle name.

Low on time and space? You could definitely buy some dumbbells and do the workouts in the dorm too. Every Sunday, they post a day-by-day schedule of workouts, which is great if I’m feeling blah about my impending trip to the gym. Each one comes with a printable copy (although, I’m a cheapo and write the workouts on post-its. My gym bag looks like a multi-colored paper-based bomb went off.) With everything else going on, it’s nice to not have to plan my workout from time-to-time.

8. Whatever this isScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 6.31.34 PM

BEST way to waste time (and force you to turn dejectedly to Instamotivation) EVER.

 

I hope you find some of these websites useful! And hopefully, their use goes beyond just being amazing time-killers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play with the little spaceship. #Instalazy

For you:
What are your top 3 most visited websites?

Other than the obvious Facebook and Twitter.
I almost typed MySpace.
Help me, I’m stuck in 2006 and I can’t get out.

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Being an RA is really, really fun sometimes.

They told me I was crazy.

When I mentioned to friends and coworkers what I was planning on doing, they called me a looney. Told me it was madness. I must be ill!

What exactly did I do, you ask?
I, voluntarily, took 16 18-year-olds on a six-hour trip to the mall. And it was AWESOME.

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m an RA for a themed community for first-year students. Whereas the zoo trip went along with the ULive floor theme for biology majors, this trip was for my own community: UBalance. In UBalance, we focus on healthy living from head-to-toe.

So when my partner-in-crime and fellow UBalance RA Sam came to me with an idea to take our floors to Destiny USA for the ropes course, WonderWorks and shopping (in the name of mental health and learning, of course), I was all for it.

On Wednesday, we loaded up two 12-passenger vans and set out for Syracuse.

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Destiny USA is pretty overwhelming. It’s basically four thousand stories and has every store/restaurant you could ever need (except a Chipotle. I am still sad about this.)

But even the open-plan, enormous, fully Christmas-ified interior of the mall didn’t make me half as hysterical as this did:
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This is where the fun begins.

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WonderWorks is probably the coolest place I’ve ever been. I don’t want to ruin the surprises, but they have a lot of neat things like anti-gravity space machines, roller coaster simulators, a BUBBLE LAB and lots of other exhibits. But, in order to get to the WonderWorks exhibits, I had to conquer a few fears.

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If you’ve been to Destiny USA, you’ve no doubt noticed the 7-year-olds sprinting from obstacle to obstacle above your head while parents cling to support ropes and mutter obscenities. Kidding. Kinda. If you’ve never been, you’re walking across various rope and beam obstacle while suspended over anywhere between 1-3 floors of the mall, depending on the part of the course.

We were all very excited. Especially these two.
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This is George and Kelsey showing off their “very-excited”/”we-are-totally-not-about-to-die” faces.

It was a lot of fun! You never actually unclip from the beam your harness is attached to like with some ropes courses, so after exploring for a bit, everyone gets daring. I did a few obstacles with no hands!

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Picture included because this girl looks eerily just like me. But it’s not me. But it could be. So that’s weird. 
Also, pro tip: Don’t wear converse when attempting the course. I almost slipped to my doom a few times.

Everyone pretty much had free reign, which is part of the reason I thought this trip went so well! You could spend a little time on the ropes course, browse WonderWorks, eat, shop–whatever!

Or, you could do what me and Cody did, which was get froyo and then scour the mall to find his face. Success.
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He is so cool.

Overall, it was a great trip! Living on campus can have drawbacks (I still miss/talk to my mom basically everyday), but I’ve been able to do a lot of awesome things that I never would’ve been able to do otherwise! Exploring the area has expanded my knowledge on a lot of things, too! Like, for instance, I now think ropes courses should be mandatory in all malls. All of them. It is our RIGHT. Well, not really, but I want it.

The great thing about this trip was that everyone that attended is part of the UBalance community. In a themed community, you have the opportunity to do things you’re really, truly interested in with people you connect with outside of the fact you attend the same school. It’s like forcing people to be your friend!!! Except significantly more successful than when I try to do it.

Living at UC, you’re really close to a lot of great places. It would be a shame to never see them, right?

Ok, it’s your turn!
Are you a fan of ropes courses? If you’ve never tried one, would you?
Have you ever visited WonderWorks before?
Do you like Cody’s glamour shot on that banner?!? Because I do.

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Are You Stuck?

I was working on a lab report all day before I finally finished it around 4 in the afternoon. I just closed out the window on my laptop when I got a call on my cell phone.

Matty: Hello?

Caller: Yeah, um, this is Matty right? The guy with the Jeep?

Matty: Uh, yeah… who’s this?

Caller: Its Kyle, from North Hall.

Matty: Yeah, what’s up dude?

Kyle: Are you busy right now? I kinda need your help.

Matty: Okay… what’s up?

Kyle: Well, we are kinda stuck right now, and we can’t get out. We were hoping you could come pull us out.

Matty: Stuck?

Kyle: Yeah! Stuck in the mud, like OD. There are two of us Jeeps out here.

Matty: Haha! Where are you?

Kyle: Albert Woodford Forest. Near Waterville

I pulled up Google Maps on my laptop and typed in the name. The forest was just a few miles south from Utica. I decided it wasn’t too far away.

Matty: Okay, but it’s going to take me about half an hour to get to you. Is that alright?

Kyle: Dude, you are a life saver! We have been stuck for like an hour and we have tried everything.

They called me at the perfect time. I had just finished all my work for the day and was about to walk over to the Dining Commons to see what they were going to have for dinner. But playing in the mud a little sounded way more fun, especially after staring at a computer screen for so many hours.

I decided to give my friend Courtney a call to see if she wanted to come along for the ride. Lucky for me, she was also done with her work for the day and was looking for something to do. I left North Hall in the Jeep, swung by Bell Hall to pick her up, and we were on our way to Waterville. On the way, she snapped a few photos. It was a beautiful drive! photo

After driving up a muddy trail, this is what we came up on!photo (6)photo (5)photo (3)photo (4)

 

This is Kyle prepping one of the tow straps to hook on to his bumper.photo (1)

It was a little tough, but we managed to pull both of those guys out of the mud. They were in there pretty deep, too. They had driven into a small creek bed that was flowing with melted snow, and had accumulated into a huge mud puddle. Although it was cold, and my Jeep and I both got a little muddy, it was worth the mini-adventure. But the best part is, now the guys owe me Chinese take-out!photo (2)

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Homecoming

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumnus of Utica College. So many events were held that it was nearly impossible to attend all of them, which was a shame. However, this 2013 homecoming was particularly special to me as it was the first time in 10 years that the alumnus of the Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity came back to an active chapter of Omicron Phi.

We kicked off the weekend on Friday night with a get-together on Varrik Street at the Celtic Harp, where a great number of alumni and undergraduates met for the first time, or reconnected after years of being apart. The entire second floor of the pub was filled with Greek letters, laughing and old chants, which I’m sure pushed the first floor patrons to their limits of tolerance.

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Early Saturday morning, we held our Postulant pinning ceremony, a ceremony which marks the beginning of a prospective member’s journey into becoming a brother of Alpha Chi Rho. Of course, at that point, the ceremony was solely for the purpose of maintaining tradition, as I and all the other members of the Fraternity were already brothers. It gave us a chance to be paired up with an alumni “Big Brother” who would guide us through the rest of our college career, and for the rest of our lives. It was an amazing feeling to have my big brother, Jean-Paul Plamondon from the class of 1996, stand before me and administer my oath into the Brotherhood. JP and I both have served in the Army, and got to know each other over the summer when the undergraduates and graduates went camping in the Catskills.

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After the pinning ceremony we all moved over to the parking lot for some tailgating activities. Our alumnus went all out, setting out a red carpet, velvet ropes and a wacky waving inflatable tube man. I don’t think Utica College has ever seen so many AXP letters on its campus at one time. Needless to say, we had an awesome time.

 

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Fun at the Zoo!

Nothing like the zoo to make you feel like a little kid again.
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…. I act my shoe size more often than I care to admit.

I was able to visit the Syracuse Zoo on Sunday thanks to Cody, a resident assistant in South Hall for the ULive themed floor. The floor is aimed towards biology/health studies students, and they do all sorts of cool stuff geared towards students in those majors. I was so excited to be a bio major for the day!

I’m a huge animal lover and always find myself mesmerized by the unique animals at the zoo (and trying to kidnap the cute ones), like this little fellow:
Owl

Poor thing has a cataract from a car accident, but he’s made almost a full recovery.
We’re also pretty much in love. Send dead mice in lieu of wedding gifts.

Another great part of the zoo is seeing animals in their natural environments. It’s kind of like “The Real World,” but with lemurs and flamingos.

This photo was taken seconds before the the two penguins that are in each other’s faces went at it. I’m actually being completely serious this time.
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The penguin on the left lost and was not too pleased.
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Poor guy.

And no trip to the zoo is complete without this movie star:
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Not a fan of paparazzi.

You better believe I was that person yelling “you guys, I found Nemo!!!” in the middle of the zoo. Even the toddlers were embarrassed for me.

Your turn!
Do you like the zoo? When was the last time you went and what zoo?

Favorite animal?
Owls! Although, the red panda is making a mad dash for my heart.
Do you act your age?
In most situations, I do (I swear). The zoo just warrants some light-hearted fun!

 

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Majors and Minors Fair

Today, we had the annual Majors and Minors Fair in the Strebel Student Center Lounge. Before the event officially began, the lounge was packed with students. It was almost impossible to walk through without bumping into someone. All the departments had their own table with so many cool things to show off.

But the best of them all: the Physics departments table, where we were “shocking” students with our static electricity machine and a bunch of other cool toys. I think the Chem departments table was pretty cool, literally, with their ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and to all my friends and colleagues who were participating in the event.

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