The Crunch: Review of Finals Week Study Spaces

Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of year! That year when all the students are not snug in their beds, but up with visions of formulas stuck in their heads. With final exams only a week away it is time to study. To crack down on the books. That time to ingest massive amounts of caffeine. And, in honor of students’ favorite time of the semester, I bring you a few reviews of the best (and worst) places to study on campus. YMMV.

RESIDENCE HALL ROOM (space rating = 3 out of 5)

Dorm Room

First up: the residence hall room. My personal setup is pretty simple with a focus on my computer where most of my work is done. When I am studying I clear everything that I am not using off of my desk in order to focus on the work at hand. When studying in your own room you are more likely to procrastinate due to distractions like television, games, roommates, etc. Therefore you need to remove anything that can distract you from your studies.

If you do choose to go down this route (I advise against it), you must create an environment that will naturally allow you to get stuff done and doesn’t impede  your work flow. To do this…

  • Make a designated area that you can study in and only allow yourself to study there while in the room.
  • Give yourself ample lighting.
  • If your desk is where you eat, you are also more likely to procrastinate by compulsive eating. So, give yourself a rule to not have food around while you work.
  • Whatever you do, do NOT study in bed. Just like eating at your desk, studying in bed will make your body think it’s time to relax or sleep – the absolute opposite of what you should be doing.

THOMPSON LIBRARY (space rating = 3.5 out of 5)

Thompson Tables

Thompson is, of course, the center of academia at our campus and a main resource for many students – whether it be a spot to study or a place to grab that 3rd or 4th cup of coffee. Here you can spend some down time studying between classes and do homework at your leisure. But how does it fair for finals studying?

Personally, I love Thompson as a study space. It has cozy seating, bright lights, a warm atmosphere, and just the right amount of white noise from those going about their business on the ground floor. This all comes together to form an area that focuses you on the task at hand. If you prefer a quieter place to study, there are rooms available to reserve for group study sessions (book these early). These are almost guaranteed to be filled during finals, but if you have a group of fifteen or more, there really couldn’t be a better place. When I’m here, I get a good bit of work done here while maintaining my sanity. However, the library is always full of people and you will be hard pressed to find a seat or open outlet anywhere during finals. If you think that Thompson is more your speed, go early and claim your spot.

18th AVENUE LIBRARY (space rating = 4 out of 5)

The SEL

The Science and Engineering Library (technically the 18th Avenue Library, but I refuse to call it by anything else) is my favorite – maybe I’m a bit biased as an engineer. They have an open floor plan on the upper levels with nothing but tables, chairs, and (much fewer) outlets. The ground floor has an ocean of computers just in case you need to print something off or need a heavier machine than your laptop. Perfect for those breaks between classes where you want a snack and a table to do work.

Depending on the day it can get cramped; however, there will almost always be a seat. I would say that it is not as warm in the atmosphere, but gets you to focus on your work substantially the same way. Seeing everyone else there working on homework and projects creates a certain level of motivation and a coffee-house level of noise that is conducive to studying. It also is a great place to work on all-nighters, especially for north campus residents. With the Terra Byte Cafe that is open until 11 p.m. during the week, you can get your late night caffeine fix and a snack as well. The 18th Avenue Library (ahem, SEL) is my top choice for studying during finals.

THE COMPUTER LAB (space rating = 2.5 to 3.5 out of 5)

Digital Union

All over campus there are Digital Unions and major-specific labs which are there for your use. They vary greatly in size, location, systems, and activity. Some may be only half full during the day and have a only Macs. Others will be a hive of with PCs as far as the eye can see.

As a computer science and engineering major, most of my homework, projects, and studying is done on a computer. This means that I can tell you personally the pitfalls of working with computers:

  • The desks do not have as much room as other areas (I like to spread out)
  • It is always louder than it needs to be. Not so much that work can’t be done, but enough to be annoying or distracting. Definitely bring some earbuds.
  • These computers are connected to the Internet. A computer screen perpetually looming in front of you, badgering you to go to Facebook or Twitter, wanting nothing more than to suck you away from productivity in just a few staccato keystrokes. But that same machine can be your savior given the right circumstances.

I give the campus computer labs a range, seeing as they have varied results.

3 Ways to Save Some Cash

April 15. Tax Day. What better day to talk about how to manage your finances as a college student? I know what you’re thinking…“Ugh, do we have to talk about money? It’s so boring.”

Yes, yes it is. But it’s also important. Especially as many of you will be moving off-campus and will eventually leave the Ohio State bubble! And hopefully, by paying a little attention to these easy tips, we’ll all be able to save a couple of cents here and there (which add up to dollars!)

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Create a Budget

Seriously. The importance of this cannot be overstated. How are you supposed to make best use of your money if you don’t even know what it’s being used for? A budget is a great way to keep track of all of expenses, so you can always make sure you’re on track for your savings goals, or to pay all of your bills. There are great online budgeting resources, like Mint.com, that allow you to integrate your bank account and see how well you’re working toward your budgeting goals.

Know Your Stuff

College graduates are faced with a lot of debt. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you graduate! Read up on the types of loans and grants you receive, and the size of your debt after graduation. That way, you’ll be better prepared to pay it all off as quickly and easily as possible. Financial Coaches in the Student Wellness Center can help you navigate through your various forms of debt and set up a realistic plan for managing your finances.

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3. Shop Smart

We all have a love/hate relationship with textbooks. Can’t learn without them, can’t save your money with them. Fortunately, there is a compromise. Make smart choices about where and how you purchase books! Always compare prices across bookstores, and know that online book shopping is a great option. Consider renting if you don’t need the textbook beyond the semester. E-books are often available for purchase online, and can be ridiculously more economical than the physical textbook! Always compare prices, and the beginning of the semester will be a lot less painful for your wallet.

Keep these ideas in mind, and you’ll be financially savvy in no time.

Happy Tax Day!

Tips for SUMMER!

At this point in the semester, your brain may be thinking (perhaps during inconvenient times, like when studying for your final exams) about the endless possibilities of what is to come this summer. While you relax and let your brain rest with fun activities like bonfires, swimming, sun, friends, family, grilling, etc., I want to remind you that college extends past your first year.

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That’s right, you get to come back to campus as a knowledgeable sophomore! Ohio State works hard to communicate and prepare you for a smooth transition in the months before and throughout your first year. Your summer after your first year is a little different. The university is sending you messages about important dates and deadlines on a less frequent basis. If you truly wanted to, you could leave for the summer and be completely separated and removed from the place you called home for the last nine months.

Now, don’t stress and think that the only way to stay connected and have an easy transition back is if you literally stay here all summer. While that may be possible and convenient for some, there are definitely other opportunities and ways to stay involved. I am here with tips for making an easy transition to your second year!

Stay connected with your Ohio State friends

This summer, it is very likely you’ll be separated from the new friends you made this year; however, this doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected. Consider setting up a GroupMe account. Here, you can all chat and stay updated in one, continuing conversation throughout the summer. Staying connected in this way will allow you to keep updated so when you do come back to campus your relationships can pick up right where they left off.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to stay connected for so many different reasons. First, it can be a great opportunity to come back to campus. There are several organizations that still look for volunteers in the summer months and work really close to campus. You could benefit the Columbus community and also pop back, check up and take a walk around campus in one activity…and what is better than that? To make the experience even more enjoyable, you could even involve your friends. Send out a text message through your new GroupMe account and make a friend date out of volunteering!

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Review

Yes, I know it is summer and I fully understand that the majority of us do not want to spend it studying or dealing with academia in any way. However, you don’t want to forget all of the information you just spent the last nine months mastering, do you? So even though it may not be most fun, reviewing a bit of the information in the summer may be a good idea.

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So how can you make this happen? We all have unique morning rituals that usually involve eating. (If your ritual doesn’t, it should: breakfast is the most important meal!) I have found that this is a great time to be a little productive. My mornings were pretty basic: woke up, drank a cup of coffee, and then ate breakfast. Before my cup of coffee I was often dysfunctional, but afterward I found that I could focus and had some convenient downtime while eating. Eventually, I figured out that I could fill this with some reading. I designated Monday and Tuesday morning as my days and on those morning would spend my time eating and skimming over my lessons and notes from my classes. On the other days, I would forget about school and either watch TV or read a book. Soon it became part of my schedule and I was surprised at how easy it was to do every week. Everyone has a different schedule so it is up to you to decide how many days and when the timing would work. Coming from personal experience I can not tell you how much this simple task helped prepare me. Keeping your brain active, specifically with information that pertains to your next school year, will truly make the transition back into the rigorous college curriculum that much easier.

Summer is great for so many reasons, but it is not just limited to only family and vacations. As you can see there are some easy things that you can be doing for school, too. Before you know it, August will be rolling around and the semester will be starting up again. Be as prepared as possible to take on campus as successful second year students.

Turning the Corner: Ohio State Football and Sportsmanship

For me, the lasting image of Ohio State’s 2013 football season wasn’t the two disappointing defeats to end the season. No, it was when offensive lineman Marcus Hall decided to flip an obscene gesture to the Michigan crowd after being ejected following his role in an on field altercation in which he threw a punch at a Michigan player. While Hall has graduated, by the time Michigan week comes around you can bet ESPN and all the other sporting media outlets will run the video from the fight to the finger flip.

I understand Hall just had momentary lapse of judgment; it was THE rivalry game, he had just been ejected, and you can be sure the Michigan fans weren’t yelling, “good game!” to him as he went through the tunnel. But, as a representative of the university he can’t have that lapse in judgment.

The athletic department and coaching staff need to stress to players (and coaches and fans for that matter) the value of keeping composure. I think a fact that gets lost in the shuffle of the double middle finger salute is the fact that Hall was ejected for being in a fight during a game. He wasn’t walking to the training room for a tape job; he was forced to leave the field of play. Don’t let sportsmanship become a lost art of the game; since when has beating an opponent not been enough that you have to try and show them up? I know the Michigan game was an isolated incident, but every college football team has a rival and the game gets emotional. Without stats in front of me I would guess 99 percent of all college football games didn’t have a fight or ejection, and especially with the increased media attention on Ohio State football the program cannot let another mistake like this happen.

Go out, play your hardest, do everything within the rules you can to win the game. And then at the end — win or lose — walk out of the stadium. As an athlete (and fan) you want to destroy your opponent on the scoreboard, but that doesn’t mean you get to disrespect them.

With the start of the new season at the Spring game this Saturday, let’s hope Ohio State has another year of great success on the field, and that the only story the media has to report is about what happens on the field. The lasting impression from a season should never be an individual’s reckless decision; it should be the collective effort put forth by the team that reflects on the successes of the team as a whole.

Things I would say to my 18-year-old self

I have a confession to make.

I wasn’t always this cool!

RevengeoftheNerds

Okay, maybe I lied…I’m still not cool, but there is one thing that I can say definitively: I have grown up a heck of a lot faster than I ever thought I would.

Yes, we have all heard that cliché statement that college is the best years of our lives and that you will become who you were always meant to be here, and until recently I can honestly say I didn’t agree. I am not trying to be that melodramatic guy who says that the light has finally shown on me and now I’m this great person, but as I near my date of graduation there is this sort of reflection period, a sense that has sort of come over me. How have I changed? What have I changed? What could I have done differently?

Oh dear, why is this image of my eighteen year old self coming to mind?! Me, getting ready to graduate high school, aspiring to be someone different, the excitement of the unknown!

But what if there was a way to go back in time and say something to your younger self? What would you say and how would you say it? It’s hard to just pick one thing, one piece of advice that encompasses everything these past four years have taught me and then…aha! (light shining from the heavens moment)…I got it…TAKE RISKS! Taking a risk might seem easy but it’s truly not, it is something that I had to struggle with day in and day out these past four years.

I changed my major and transferred to Ohio State. I met new people and tried new things. All of that involved me taking risks! So here it is. I sit myself down, tell myself to listen, and say it one more time (because I tend to be a little distracted and forgetful every now and then):

I have gone through more than I could ever have imagined in the past four years. You may or may not follow my same path. You may be a lot smarter than me and do things I never could, but there is one thing that you have to promise me: day in and day out I want you to take risks! Because only when you take a risk and push yourself out of your comfort zone will you be able to grow as a person!

I understand this whole thing is mostly about my advice for my younger self but it does carry weight for others. Whether you take more risks or commit to a different goal, take a good look at yourself and see what you have done recently and focus on that, because only then will you be able to see the type of person you have become!

Taking the Next STEP

Can you believe that the semester is almost over?! Finals are just weeks away, and your freshman year is coming to a close. When I was in your shoes last year, I was sad to see the year coming to an end because I had made so many awesome memories and friends. I was also excited to be entering my sophomore year mostly because of STEP. When I checked that little box on my housing form, I did not know what to expect, but participating in STEP this past year has been a great experience!

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Sounds Awesome! But what is STEP?

STEP stands for Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, and it is designed for second-year students who decide to live in the residence halls for a second year. The program pairs you up with a faculty member advisor who reviews and approves a proposal about how you plan to spend your $2,000. Yes, that’s right, I said $2,000. The $2,000 grant can be used towards one or more of six experiences: Artistic and Creative Endeavors, Internships, Leadership, Service-Learning and Community Service, Study Abroad, and Undergraduate Research. There are also required co-curricular events to attend about everything from staying fit to applying to grad school.

The process of deciding what you want to do with your money, writing that proposal, and attending those required events may seem daunting, so I have come up with four steps to help you succeed in STEP (pun intended)!

1. You do not have to commit to an experience right away.

When I first started the STEP process, I did not know what experience I was going to choose. I was debating between using the grant for an internship or study abroad. I finally decided in February that I was going to study abroad in London in May of 2015. I was even one of the first of my friends to pick an experience. Some of my friends were still deciding at the beginning of March! Take your time to decide on an experience because if you are passionate about what you will be doing, it will be much easier to write your proposal.

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2. Start writing your proposal as soon as possible.

I wrote my proposal all in one sitting and that was not fun. The proposal includes a two-page summary of the details of the experience you will be participating in, a one-page personal statement, and a budget and explanation of how you will be spending your grant. Did I mention that it all has to be single-spaced? If you break up the writing of the proposal it goes by really fast. After all, you have a year to write it. Even if you are not sure how you will be spending the grant, it is still worthwhile to write the personal statement.

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3. Keep in touch with your faculty member.

The faculty members who are part of the STEP program volunteered to participate, so they genuinely enjoy getting to know students both inside and outside the classroom. Your faculty advisors want to help! My faculty advisor was Dr. Bartoszek-Loza who teaches some general chemistry classes. I never had her as a professor for my chemistry classes, but I am really glad that she was my STEP advisor. She was always so enthusiastic and encouraging about the ideas I had, and she gave me a lot of advice on life in general. Your STEP advisor is there as a resource and mentor, so make the most of it!

4. Keep an open mind.

This may be the best advice I can give you in regards to STEP. The STEP program is all about experiences that you would not normally get the chance to have. Pick co-curricular programs that focus on global awareness or professional development. Meet with your faculty advisor one-on-one. Spend your $2,000 on an experience that pushes you outside your comfort zone. I promise that you will be glad that you did.

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So if you made it this far through this post, and are wishing you had signed up for STEP, never fear! If you are interested in participating in STEP for 2014-15 and you did not sign up when renewing your housing contract for your second year, simply contact Chelsea Black at 614-292-8266. You can also learn more about the STEP program at step.osu.edu.

My First Year Was Successful Because…

So, the end of your first year at Ohio State is winding down and there are only three weeks left to go before you are no longer considered a first year student. What do you have to show for it? What have you learned? My first year was a year of growth and development. I learned more about myself in that one year than I had in all of my four years of high school and I am thankful for what I learned. After I finished my last exam of spring semester, I took some time to reflect and realized that my year was wildly successful because…

I knew my professors’ names and had personally conversed with them. Approaching professors can be intimidating and in the midst of your busy semester you wonder if it is really worth your time to get to know your professors. It is. Your professors are some of the best resources on campus. They have a wealth of knowledge and are so excited to share their ideas! Professors are here to fill our minds with more knowledge than we can imagine and want to help us grow as students.

I could go the RPAC alone. In my first semester I was afraid to go most places on campus alone because, frankly, I thought I would get lost and because I never wanted to be lonely. However, there came a time when I was ready to go places on my own time. Being confident in my ability to navigate the campus effectively and take time for myself is a skill that I am thankful I learned.

I found a major that helped me find my passion. During my first semester I changed my major, and it was one of the best decisions I made at Ohio State. Not only did I find a major that I enjoyed, but I also found a major that helped me discover ways to further develop my interests and find my true niche.

I learned how to manage my time. It was always a sad day to realize that I had 60 pages of a textbook that needed to be read before my next class. With a packed schedule of going to class, student organization meetings, papers, midterms, and napping, it is difficult to find time to accomplish everything in one day. By the end of my first year I had developed a way to schedule time to study, go to class, and nap. Figuring out how to use my time wisely made my goals attainable.

I was exhausted. By the end of my first year, I was mentally and physically exhausted. My brain hurt from the amount of knowledge I obtained and I was too tired to function from all of the late nights study sessions and life talks with my roommates. I never got much sleep, but I never regretted an extra minute of studying or conversing with people on my floor.

I found my inner Buckeye. By the end of my first year I had finally learned all of the words to Carmen Ohio and the Buckeye Battle Cry. After sitting with thousands of my friends at football games, I learned the words to the point where I could participate for each song. Cheering on the Buckeyes is a top priority and learning how to sing along made me feel more connected to other students and the University.

I wanted to come back. When my parents came to pick me up after my last final, the first thing I wanted to do was go straight back to Ohio State. My first year was so much more than I thought it would ever be and I was so thankful for the great year Ohio State gave me. Before I returned home for the summer, I already could not wait to get back to Ohio State to learn more, meet more people, and further develop the amazing friendships I had made. I fell in love with Ohio State my first year and I could not wait to return the following year to have another amazing year.                                                                                                                                                                              

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6 Reasons Why YOU Should Play Intramural Sports

1. KEEP THE LOVE OF PLAYING YOUR FAVORITE SPORT ALIVE: Many students at Ohio State have played at least one sport in their past, whether it was for a high school team, a church group, or a travel program of some sort. We all experienced the sadness and tears when it was finally all said and done. As first-year students, the separation from sports is still fairly fresh since you haven’t been removed for that long. Intramural sports are a PERFECT way for you to get off the bench and get back in the game!

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2. ORGANIZED GAMES: Admit it. You can only play so many pick-up basketball games at the RPAC before you get annoyed with the guy who fouls every five seconds. Sure they’re fun and competitive, but do you want a little bit more structure and organization to your games? Intramural sports provide referees or officials, record wins and losses, observe time limits or running clocks, and even have tournaments and playoffs! Intramural sports allow you to feel like you’ve never left the game!

3. EXERCISING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: We all know that since coming to college, motivation and procrastination have become our two new best friends, especially when it comes to working out. It may be difficult to find time with our busy, hectic schedules to go play a game of soccer or racquetball with some friends. With intramural sports, games are at a set day and time every week so you can budget your time accordingly!

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4. STRESS RELIEVER: I think it goes without saying that college is a little bit more difficult than we all thought it would be. Stress piles up on us with assignments, exams, work, social events, and everything in between. Taking time to focus on your physical wellness and health, even if it is just for a little bit every week, is vital to staying balanced. Therefore, using intramural sports as that outlet is a perfect way to keep active, stay healthy, and not look like this cat.

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5. SO MANY OPTIONS: Intramural sports here at Ohio State are unlike any other collegiate recreational program in the nation. We offer over 40 sports for men, women, and co-ed teams! 40! Choose from your traditional sports like football, soccer, or basketball, or the not-so-traditional like arm wrestling, chess, inner tube water polo, or broomball! You’re guaranteed to have a great time playing, no matter what sport you choose!

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6. MEET NEW PEOPLE AND PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS: Intramural sports give you the opportunity to make your own team with your friends or to join a random team to meet new people. Whichever route you choose, you’re bound to make great memories and meet some amazing people! Oh, and did I mention it’s a ton of fun?

Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler

So now that you’ve been convinced to play some intramural sports, it’s time to dust off those baseball cleats, dig the tennis racquet out from the back of your closet, and put on your game face! Head over to recsports.osu.edu/intramural-sports to check out everything that is offered! In case you skipped the previous line or were reading too fast, it’s recsports.osu.edu/intramural-sports!! See you out there!

University Motto: Education for Citizenship

Happy April! Finals are at the end of the month and summer is nearly upon us, and I hope you take a look back at the fond memories you made and the experiences you shared during your first year at Ohio State. Things that come to mind probably include Welcome Week activities, athletic events, spending time with friends, and the occasional trip into the city of Columbus. You’ve learned the words to Carmen Ohio, the quickest way to get to each class, which foods are best used to fill up a meal plan block, and almost everything there is to know about Ohio State. However, I’m willing to bet you won’t recognize the following words:

Disciplina in civitatem

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Those Latin words are the university motto, which can be found inscribed on the Ohio State seal.

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Seals: Cases A, B, and C

In English, it reads as “Education for Citizenship”. Now, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know that universities had mottoes. The ones that do range from “Gladly we Learn and Teach” at Illinois State University to “To Persevere and Excel” at New York University.

Maybe I’m biased, but I think that our motto knocks all the other mottoes out of the park. What’s different about Ohio State’s motto is that it calls upon us to be leaders; it calls upon us to use what we have learned here in our four years to change the world. As Ohio State students, and one day graduates, we are bound by duty to use what we learned here to be model citizens, and to make everywhere we go a better place than it was when we first arrived.

Now before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s focus on small achievements, little things that we can do incrementally to live out the university motto, “Education for Citizenship”.

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Here’s looking at you, William Oxley Thompson

1. Volunteer

One of the best things about Ohio State is that there are dozens of ways for you to volunteer and give back to the community. In fact, if you take a casual walk through a residence hall, you will probably see posters advertising future events for organizations such as Circle K, Pay it Forward, and Buck-I-Serv. And who can forget Community Commitment and the MLK Day of Service, which happen on the same day EVERY YEAR? Other opportunities can be found easily online through a website dedicated to service such as volunteercentralohio.org.

2. Be a Positive Influence, Be a Mentor

With standards rising for each and every incoming freshman class, the students of Ohio State are now some of the brightest and well-regarded students in the nation. With this success comes responsibility. So whether it’s a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance you barely know, chances are that someone in your life looks up to you and recognizes you as a person they want to model themselves after. If you recognize someone that needs a little help in any aspect of their life, take a minute or two to talk with them. Help them along their path just like someone has probably helped you along yours. The influence we have on our peers is astounding; take advantage of that fact to make a positive impact.

3. Make your voice heard! Vote!

The fact of the matter is that young people tend not to vote, as they usually don’t think that their vote will really matter. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth! We are fortunate to experience democracy at all levels at Ohio State, and students are asked to make their voices heard on a number of local, state, and national issues on a regular basis. Voting is one of the easiest ways for you to turn your beliefs into action. Whether it’s the yearly election for Undergraduate Student Government or the presidential election every four, take time out of your schedule to learn about the issues and then go and vote!

Buck-I-SERV: The trip of your life

Picture this: you’re hammering nails for a house you’re helping to build while under the sun in 70 degree weather in Florida; then at night, you’re sitting on the beach, sipping your iced tea, watching the sunset with fellow Buckeyes who have become your best friends.

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Building homes isn’t your thing? How about entering a urban middle school, building relationships with at-risk youth through one-on-one interactions, tutoring, playing a game of ball, etc., and getting rewarded by enjoying some southern soul food in the heart of Atlanta?

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You say you are more of an outdoors type? Let’s take a trip to Minnesota where you can serve as a camp counselor to youth who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, live in transitional housing, identify as LGBTQ, or have diabetes.

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Do you want to get far away from Ohio? Then head to Colorado to help prepare shoes that will be shipped out of the country to countries where shoes are a luxury.

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Now you’re doubting me and saying that there isn’t anything out there that can accommodate this, especially for college students. We go to The Ohio State University where there is something for everyone. To silence the doubters, YES, there something called Buck-I-SERV, where you can do exactly what I mentioned above and more! Now, I know you have some questions and concerns, so let me start addressing them.

What exactly is Buck-I-SERV? 

According to Buck-I-SERV’s website, “Buck-I-SERV is a weeklong, substance-free program centered on community service and civic engagement.” My interpretation: you get to travel to new places, see and experience new things with other Buckeyes all while helping the local community. These trips are offered during winter, spring and summer breaks and are typically 10-person trips, however, there are some that are 20- and even 50-person trips!

Wait, can I explore the city where I’m serving?

YES!!! This isn’t just a work trip (although, I wouldn’t call what you do there as “work”), it’s also a social trip! Go ahead and visit the local restaurants and attractions. Actually, you are required to explore the city and have fun! When I went to Atlanta, I tried my first ever chicken and waffles, a southern staple.  So before you say “well, I really want to go to the beach and I don’t think I can do that on a Buck-I-SERV trip”, think again.

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Where will I stay?

You aren’t living in the presidential suite at a Ritz-Carlton, but depending on where you go to, you will be living in anything from a hostel to log cabins, and even alumni homes! On my Buck-I-SERV trip, we lived in a church with three other universities!

This sounds expensive!

$200-$400 for a week long trip. No, I did not forget to add an extra zero on the end. Yes, they are that cheap. These prices include the ride to and from the service city, housing, site fees and also a small donation. Although you have to pay for food, you were already planning to pay for it when you were booking your $300 flight.

I’ve already visited all 50 states, so I don’t think there is anything for me.

Hahaha. Good one. For those of you who have been lucky enough to visit all 50 states, good for you, I’m still trying to get there. But I highly doubt you’ve been to Marysville, TN or Pocahontas County, WV. Even if you’ve been to places like Dallas, Boston, New York or Chicago, I’m sure the last time you went, you didn’t serve their community and see things you would have never seen by simply being a tourist. And if you want to be more adventurous, you can go serve abroad. In fact, for the 2013-2014 school year, there have been Buck-I-SERV trips to five different countries!

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Information overload!

I know, I’m sorry. I probably told you more in this one blog than you learned in your survey class. But fear not, if you need more information, go ahead and check out Buck-I-SERV’s website.

As I start to wind down this blog, I hope you give Buck-I-SERV a look when you are planning your future breaks. Be on the look out for the applications, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Not to be cliché, but the memories, the people that you meet, and the experiences that you gain on these trips will truly last forever.