Around the Table

Every year, Saint Xavier closes down for the Thanksgiving holiday. The dorms empty and the students go home. This leaves a quiet peace here on campus as the sounds of footsteps and cars no longer grace the air with its presence. With no one in the dorms, I’m guessing the maintenance staff is very thankful for a reprieve from the usual rambunctiousness of the student body. It’s safe to say that the student body is also very thankful. For many, it is a well-needed rest before finals week. Others find it a chance to be with family and enjoy some long missed home cooking. And it is this time that we as Americans take a moment to think of the things that we are grateful for and lucky to have, whether that be the families we grew up with or made, the country we live in or the possessions we have. However, in these times of great political polarization and hate on both sides of the aisle, there is a threat to that time of unity and of humble thanks.

 

Respect, an integral part of life here in Saint Xavier. It is one of our core values and something that is instilled into us as a necessary part of the discourse of learning and of living with one another. But it does not just mean respect with opinions in the class. When it comes to family, we must also be respectful of our family’s opinions. What’s the point of coming together as a family to have Thanksgiving if we are not willing to give each other mutual respect for our sometimes different perspectives in life. Respect goes both ways. But it should not be assumed or expected if one does not contribute to it as well. Often times, respect is expected automatically which is both right and wrong. You should have the courteousness and respect and not present yourself as a rude individual, but at the same time, the person receiving the respect should also make good and present themselves and conduct themselves as being worthy of said respect. But respect does not just mean to other people. It also is a way of living and appreciating the things we have. That’s why they call it Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving is not just Turkey Day. And while the origins of Thanksgiving may not suit the pallid of some, the meaning behind it should. Too often do we forget the things that we have and lose our perspective in the world. We toss things we don’t use anymore in the trash and underappreciate both the things and the people in our lives. A healthy respect for the lucky things in our lives opens our eyes to not just what we have but also what others do not have. Volunteering at homeless shelters has opened my eyes to things I had already known. But they have kept my eyes fixed on these injustices and things we take for granted. There are so many people in the world, so many here in this country that do not have the things we have or the people in our lives. That is why when you’re around the table with your family, not just on Thanksgiving but on every occasion, take pause to be grateful for what you have and maybe give a little as well.

Spring Has Come

It is the week after Easter. School has begun again and with it, a new change. Spring has come to the city in gusto and with it comes the air of opportunity. The change of the seasons always brings about new possibilities. There is something sentimental of the end of something and the beginning of another. But like every opportunity, you can either take it or leave it. That is what I wish to discuss in this week’s introspection. What do we do when the opportunity presents itself? The answer to that question speaks volumes to a person’s character.

There are times in which we may feel aimless. I know for us college students, it is by far one of our most salient issues in this pivotal time in our lives. Is this career the right fit for me? Am I happy with what I’m doing? It is quite easy to just stay stagnant, to embrace the status quo rather than taking the hard road and really evaluating what it is that we as students desire for our futures. I know for myself this is the case. I am a low-energy person. If it can be done in fewer and faster steps, I’ll do it, even if the outcome is subpar to a more time managed process. But this is not the right thing to do every time. As individuals growing up and developing as adults, we need to understand that all of that is determined on our self-evaluation into what exactly is us. Are we content? Is content even good enough? Sometimes we have to take the hard road and dismantle and deconstruct what exactly it is that we seek here at the university.

Like most colleges and universities, Saint Xavier has a Career Services Center and advisors that guide students along and listen to their concerns. I happen to have advisors from both the Art Department and School of Education. While it is important for us as students to evaluate our lives, we mustn’t forget that we have people here to help us along the way. It’s part of their job to assist us on our educational journey. Being able to work within and with others is an important part of learning who we are. It is by self-evaluation that we can have new beginnings. For the spring to come, we must bear the harsh winter.

Bridget’s Guide to Managing Stress

Welcome back,

This week promises to be one of the most stressful and nerve-racking weeks of my college career. I have two senior presentation dress rehearsals, a paper due on Thursday and my big senior presentation on Friday night – not to mention Grad Fest on Wednesday! I have learned a lot about dealing with stress in the last four years, and I know I will be putting some of the techniques to good use this week. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my de-stressing techniques with you via the blog and hopefully you’ll find something that works for you as well!

1. Get outside – Even if you take a short walk to Starbucks or around Lake Marion, set aside some time to get outside during a stressful time. You will be surprised how much more clear your mind gets after just a few minutes outside.

2. Call your family – If you’re away at school like I have been, being away from your family can make dealing with stressful times all the more difficult. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk it out with someone in your family. You will be comforted by speaking to someone familiar and you might gain some extra insight about getting through the stress. Plus, I’m sure your family is always happy to hear from you!

3. Exercise – Whether you like to go to the gym, run, or just do some yoga in your room, make sure to allow time for that during a stressful week. It’s easy to let exercise fall by the wayside when you have so much going on, but stress makes exercise that much more important! For me, starting my day with a little yoga in my apartment is very effective. It helps me clear my mind and get relaxed before I try to take on any difficult tasks.

4. Watch a good show or movie before bed – One of my biggest problems during stressful times is falling asleep. If I work right up until bed time, I find that sleep just doesn’t come very easily. Therefore, I think it’s extremely necessary to put your work aside an hour or so before you go to bed and just put on your favorite show or movie to help yourself relax and take your mind off any stressful events ahead. Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help ensure that you’re ready to tackle the next day!

I hope these tips will help someone else battle stress and be successful as much as they have helped me during my time at SXU. This week represents the culmination of a lot of hard work for my classmates, and so I would appreciate prayers, thoughts and positive vibes!

Until next time…

An Uncertain Future

This week has been a long and busy time. With lots of homework and surprise midterms, on my account, thrown into the mix, it’s been exhausting. About a week ago, I received word via email of the increasingly suspect status of the MAP grant due to the political gridlock in Springfield. This has been going on for the past few months – these emails. They were mostly the same when it came to updates on the MAP grant, the situation down in Springfield, what Saint Xavier’s been doing to help out and what we as students can do. It’s amusing sometimes how often the school reminds us of their efforts toward correcting this problem that they themselves have no total control over the bureaucrats down in Springfield. It shows that they are aware of their students’ concern. I appreciate it. I know the school is trying its best. If I thought otherwise, I’d be more inclined to a negative view. They’re doing all they can, I believe. If they didn’t, they’d be saying goodbye to a third of its students and much of its core value of diversity with low-income students, like myself, being forced to drop out due to a lack of funds. With a significant percentage of schools that students can’t afford to attend, it becomes a big problem. I don’t want to see that happen here. I care too much about this school and the community it has created to see it happen. Despite this notion, at least, Saint Xavier University is faring better than other schools in the state. Realizing this, I feel concerned for my friends that are going to other schools. I wonder how they’re dealing with this crisis.

I know they are doing all they can to keep this school up and running. But this email that was sent to us on the MAP grant and how we’ll have to look for alternative options was a setback for myself and I know for a lot of students in my situation. From what I’ve heard from other students in my position, we’ll have to come up with the money, around $4,750 for myself. For myself, I was able to find an acceptable alternative by taking out a loan which will be replaced with the MAP grant if it comes back. How am I going to pay that back in that time period? And why should I? Why am I and other students of low-income families being forced to pay for a grant affirmed to us by the state? I know the school’s reasoning for the push. They can’t run this school if there’s no revenue. They have done all they’ve can and more to continue to fight for us and work with us to find an amicable end to this situation. However, for the state, I have no such reservations. The state’s shooting itself in the foot by putting the burden of paying the shadow left behind by the grant upon the backs of the most financially vulnerable. If we qualified for the MAP grant due to our low-income status, how does it make sense for that student to pay what is unpayable?

I am not confident in the measures that are being taken by the state and find them misguided. I don’t blame the school. I blame the incompetence in the state legislature to affirm the basic rights of its citizens to education. I blame them for not setting aside their differences and realizing that by removing a huge percentage of its student population, low-income and poor, from acquiring the skills to work in-demand jobs, the state will suffer in the long term. For us students, we need to become more active in this process. The legislative process does not, or at least should not work in a vacuum. There was a rally of students a few weeks ago to lobby for the MAP grant, although it was ultimately unsuccessful in encouraging the state to pass the MAP grant, Saint Xavier and other schools showed their commitment to their promise of education. We need to do the same and advocate for ourselves, too. I really want to remain here at Saint Xavier. My friends are here, my dream of becoming a teacher is here. But with these circumstances, the future is uncertain. But I know Saint Xavier is there for us, and we need to be there for ourselves.

Introspection: Choices

Spring Break is here and with it comes choices. If any of you were as unfortunate enough to have been forced to watch those anti-underage drinking or child predator public service announcements, you know what I’m talking about. I remember those horrendous days when we’d have to sit in the auditorium and listen to the principal ramble on and on before an equally boring video, as cheesy as the nachos being served for lunch, was played. I mean, it’s common sense that people lack in these situations, right? When I was a kid, these videos meant literally nothing. I didn’t go out to parties, I don’t give my personal information to strangers on the internet, in fact I hesitate and even try to avoid giving my address to friends. I had no intention whatsoever to drink alcohol and I never went out to do anything after school. It was pretty safe to say it was not relevant at all, at least to me. However, now in college, those messages that I ignored were becoming more relevant, not so much for me but for those around me. Dangerous situations that my fellow students would get into were becoming a reality and not just a situation in a bad Lifetime movie. It seems to be a rite of passage for the freshmen to partake in certain illicit activities during their time in college. It had been so since forever that it has become a trope in popular culture. You can’t ignore it because there policies against it. Since I work with the Housekeeping staff on campus, I’ve seen the evidence of that rite. Despite the fact that it is very hard, if not impossible, to stop it, we can make choices to mitigate or protect those that do partake. What those exact contingencies are, I can’t really say. I’m not an expert not report to be. I’m just a student. But what I can do is provide some basic common sense that I feel is lacking heavily nowadays.

have friends taking road trips and others are heading for famous or infamous, depending on your preference, Spring Break hubs, like Miami and Cancun. For myself, I’m heading home. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my parents. I miss it, especially the home cooking. Living on campus, you learn to appreciate little things like having someone else wash your close or make your meals. Some people might call me a bore for staying at home and not “living” as they would put it. I just have to say this. I have my entire life to enjoy time for myself, to see the world. But I don’t have my entire time to be with my parents. They are old, old enough to be the grandparents of my fellow students. I know this and I know that reality comes with it certain attitudes and values. I’ll speak more of those values in a later post. What I want to talk about right now is choices.

We have choices that we can make that not only affect ourselves but those around us. When you go out drinking and having a good time, that’s one thing. I’m not some prude or prohibitionist that wants to ruin everyone’s fun. But someone’s fun ends when it directly affects the lives of others, physically or mentally. I saw this one post about Alcohol and Gender around campus. There is a need for people to have a bit of introspection when it comes to their actions. Common sense, it’s something we lack in abundance nowadays it seems. People drink, they party, they get high or whatever and then something bad happens and everyone asks, ‘what were they thinking?’ That’s the problem, they weren’t thinking. They made poor choices that ended in someone getting hurt. Granted, a lot of the time, nothing does happen. But for those times something does, we see it on the news all the time. I don’t need to gone on this issue, right? You were like me right? You saw those dumb videos, those repetitive anti-sexual assault courses that tell us exactly what we already know. I just want everyone to come back to campus safe. Choices, we all make them. Some of us make it on impulse and others on experience. No matter what process, we make choices and it’s up to us to decide, to think beyond the presence and think of what might happen if I do this. Go have fun this week. But make sure you’re making decisions you won’t regret. I know I won’t.

Midterms=Exhaustion

Ahh…Midterms.  The papers meant to cause you much stress and torment about 2 months before your finals cause you even more stress and torment, but never fear!  No, on second thought, fear, fear with every scary bone in your body. The Midterms are Here!

The Horror!

Although, midterms are a great way to prove your prowess in class as well as show your Midterms-3professor that you are truly a bright intellectual, or, if you’re like me, it’s a time of regretting not paying more attention in class and studying all the material at the last minute.  Good times.  Luckily, we are not alone in this war of valor and procrastination.  Professors understand that midterms and finals are some of the hardest academic times in a student’s career, so if you are terrified of exams as much as I am, it’s best if you take and cherish the help they provide to you, such as study guides and access to previous lectures.  Even if you aren’t sure as to what to study, your professor should be willing to help point you in the right direction.

Listen to the picture.

Listen to the picture.

Finally, the midterms are done, your coffee reserves are depleted, and your brain is dealing with the after effects of exploding from an information quantity overload.  Now, all you have to do is deal with the slightly not so stressful homework and class projects due the following week, but don’t worry there is plenty more that SXU provides than stressful assignments and we will discuss what those things are next time.  Good luck readers and until next time, enjoy life.

 

Midterms have arrived…

“OMG, I’m sooooo stressed.”

“I can’t take all of this work.”

“Can I just drop out of school already?”

“What the heck am I even doing with my life???”

 

How I feel right now.

How I feel right now…

 

These statements, plus a BUNCH of other less blog appropriate phrases, have been frequenting my vocabulary for the past week. Midterms are in full swing here at SXU and every student is feeling the pressure and stress. No one is safe! Everyone I talk to seems to be just as overwhelmed as I am, but you really can’t blame us….midterms suck. For anyone that doesn’t know what midterms are, let me explain them to you as best as I can in college student terms.

 

mid-term

noun, plural: midterms

1. Either an exam, presentation, or paper that professors use to extensively assess students’ knowledge of subject matter in their classes. Usually all of your professors cram these lovely assignments in to the span of one or two weeks, at the same time as all your other classes.

2. Either an exam, presentation, or paper that will make you question your smarts, why you’re even in college in the first place, and your sanity. They also may cause insomnia, lack or increase of appetite, ulcers, migraines, and increased procrastination.

Okay, so I’m being a little over dramatic. Midterms are bad, but not unconquerable. Yes, you have like five or six subjects all begging your complete and undivided attention with whatever work your teacher has assigned…but you can make it. And I’m here to give you some advice on how to do that!

 

deepbreathingmeditation

First off, BREATHE. No, seriously. Breathe. Take a deep and cleansing breath in through your nose, and exhale out of your mouth. Now do this again, and again, until you feel yourself calming down. Maybe it’s just because I’ve really gotten into yoga recently, but deep breathing really helps me to relax.

 

no-perfection

Next, REALIZE that you cannot be perfect. Unless you’re a robot, you will make mistakes and get a bad grade here or there. You don’t have to study for hours and hours if you don’t feel like it, sometimes it’s more worth it to take the B than to make yourself crazy for the A. Putting less pressure on yourself actually helps you perform better! (Unless you’re one of those crazy people that actually thrive under pressure…then you can keep doing what you do).

 

FRIENDS is a great stress reducing show!

FRIENDS is a great stress reducing show!

DO things that you love. Work out, watch reruns of Friends, write poetry, read books…this  is what will keep you sane. Allow yourself a break from studying and just enjoy life.

 

study room

JOIN study groups. This will help you find people who can support and encourage you, and vice versa. Supporting one another through midterms is key to surviving the stress!

 

The library is suuuuch a good place to get work done in. Nice and quiet without any distractions.

The library is suuuuch a good place to get work done in. Nice and quiet without any distractions.

USE your resources. Go to the learning center, work on midterms in the library, talk to counseling services. Departments within the university are here to help!

 

Yes, I know this is picture is cheesy...don't judge.

Yes, I know this is picture is cheesy…don’t judge.

And lastly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

 

Midterms may be one of the suckiest parts of the college experience, but I always realize that it’s one small aspect of the whole time I will spend at SXU. There are so many bigger and better things that will outweigh all the stress you feel about midterms and I hope that thought is enough to help you make it through.

Good luck to everyone out there! And I’ll see you in a week!

What Day Is It?

Dear Stress...

Dear Stress…

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you don’t even know what day it is? Have you ever been so stressed out and worn down that you slept for like 16 hours of the day?

I have! He has! She has! They have! We all have!

A lot of the stress that college student encounter is negative stress. You broke-up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your best friend is mad at you, the cafe is closed, you gained 5 pounds, that girl you’ve had your eye on is totally not interested, your sister ruined your favorite shirt, your roommate ALWAYS has her boyfriend over, you went out instead of studying and failed… we have and will always these issues! I want to share with you some of the ways that I keep my stress levels down.

  1. Stay active- going to the gym, working out, walking, participating in intramural sports… these activities actually help you stay awake throughout the day. These activities also help you burn stress and blow off some steam that you may have built up! Staying active also helps keep you in shape!
  2. Eat all of your meals- the minute you skip a meal, your body is sooooooo mad at you. There are plenty of healthy meals that you can eat on any campus. There is also plenty of junk food that you can avoid! You and still eat your meals and keep a healthy weight, if you do it right!
  3. Hangout with your friends- sometimes you just need to take you mind off of life and go out with your friends for dinner, ice cream, or a margarita! (if you’re 21!) It’s nice to  not worry about anything for a short period of time, wiping your mind clean of all stress can also help you solve your stress. Taking a step back and looking at everything that is going on from a larger pint of view can benefit you. Sometimes all we need is someone to listen to us vent.
  4. Call your mom/dad/grandma/sibling- maybe you feel a bit distant from your family now that college has taken over your life. Bring them up to speed with what is going on in your life, maybe they will have the right advice for you! Again, sometimes all we need is someone to listen to us vent.
  5. Keep you body happy- if you neglect your body, it will retaliate! Fight your lack of motivation and make sure to shower, get a full night of rest, and drink plenty of water or tea!
  6. Make a list- tell yourself what you need to accomplish and prioritize it starting with what is due/what needs to be done first. Make sure to cross off what you accomplished, it feels good!
  7. Reward yourself- make sure to tell yourself you did a great job! Pat yourself on the back, go do something nice for yourself (I like getting my nails done! hehe)
  8. Make time for school- you will not pass your classes if you do not try to understand the material that the teacher is going to test you on! Some things that I do to keep my brain engaged after class hours include:

Rewriting notes
Making Flashcards
Rereading the chapter
Talking with others about your material
Re-teaching/explaining to someone the material you learned

YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU SET YOUR MIND TO IT!