Four Meals I Should Have Done Differently

Now that March has arrived, I’m beginning to feel the excitement for spring and summer months ahead. This is also the time of year when I realize how my poor winter habits have caught up with me. Specifically, how my love of comfort foods tends to spike during the cold winter months. If you’re like me, you might have put on a layer—or two—of “insulation” after giving into cravings for pasta, cheese, and warm chocolate chip cookies. It is difficult to choose to eat a salad for dinner on a freezing, snowy day when you could choose a warm, creamy bowl of pasta instead. Am I right?

When I was an Ohio State student using the meal plan, I found it difficult to make healthy eating choices when there were other seemingly more delicious–and often unhealthy–options right in front of me. After surrendering to my lack of willpower for most of my freshman year (circa 2007), I wish I could go back in time and knock some sense into my 18-year-old self.

Below I listed some of my favorite campus meals that made up my typical diet as a first-year student at Ohio State…yes, some of the same menu items have been around this long! Then I listed some alternatives that I wish I would have eaten instead. Shout out to this nutrition calculator for showing the nutrition facts for all of these campus meals! For the sake of this post, I included calorie counts for the meals below.

Breakfast at The Ohio Union 

(Although the Union did not open until my third year at Ohio State, this is what I likely would have eaten as a first-year student…)

My typical meal choice at Sloopy’s:

  • Two chocolate pancakes: 1,018
  • Orange juice: 110
  • TOTAL: 1,128 calories

What I could eat at Espress-OH instead:

  • Regular coffee with cream and Splenda: 80
  • Banana: 105
  • 1 cup of dry Cheerios: 110
  • TOTAL: 295 calories

Snack at the 18th Avenue Library

Typical snack choice:

  • Large frozen mocha: 738 calories

What I could eat instead:

  • Sliced apples & peanut butter: 209 calories

Lunch on North Campus

My typical meal choice at North Commons (based on today’s menu):

  • Parmesan crusted chicken: 420
  • Italian vegetable mix: 42
  • Chicken tortilla soup: 97
  • Chocolate milk: 232
  • Two chocolate chip cookies: 281
  • TOTAL: 1,070 calories

What I could eat instead at Oxley’s By the Numbers:

  • Pretzel club sub: 592
  • Water: 0
  • TOTAL: 592 calories

Dinner at MarketPlace on Neil

My typical meal choice:

  • Chicken pesto alfredo rotini, large (#8): 962
  • Sprite: 253
  • TOTAL: 1,215 calories

What I could eat instead:

  • Chicken Caesar Wrap: 680
  • Berry cup: 102
  • Water: 0
  • TOTAL: 782 calories

After a full day of making these “typical” meal choices, I would have consumed 4,151 calories, but an entire day of choosing the alternate meal options would have brought me to 1,879 calories total.  

I should also note another valuable resource here: this calorie calculator can estimate the suggested amount of calories a person should ideally consume per day based on his/her age, size, and lifestyle.  Maybe a 6’5″ athlete could survive on a 4,000 calorie diet…but I, standing at 5′ 0″, would not fare so well on this diet. After using that calorie calculator for myself, it’s no wonder why my 18-year-old eating habits impacted my body in the ways they did.

Disclaimer: Remember that calories are just one of many ways to measure the nutrition value of food. If you’re unsure about the meaning of the other items on a nutrition label, I suggest enrolling in Human Nutrition 2310 or doing some research on your own. This book is great, too.

Be healthy, Buckeyes!

5 Quotes from The Glass Castle and Why They Matter

By now you’re familiar with your summer reading assignment for the Buckeye Book Community (BBC). At orientation you heard how The Glass Castle gives you a unique connection to all first-year students. Ohio State might seem humongous, but you’ll have at least one thing in common with your 6,999 peers: you all have (presumably) read this book and therefore have something to chat about.

And, while the BBC is getting you connected to your peers, it also about getting you engaged with ideas, issues, faculty, staff, opportunities, and resources.

When you return to campus, you will use the book in University Survey. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend campus events that are focused on the themes of the book. Today, I want to highlight some of the events you can look forward to via some noteworthy quotes from The Glass Castle.

Maybe I should have cut him some slack. With his broken wing and lifetime of eating roadkill, he probably had a lot to be ungrateful about. Too much hard luck can create a permanent meanness of spirit in any creature. (p. 120)  

In this scene, Jeannette takes the perspective of the buzzard and attempts to understand the struggles he’s faced to influence his outlook and demeanor. This fall, the Multicultural Center will show scenes from “Stranger with a Camera,” and then attendees will discuss how bias and assumptions can affect our understanding others. Co-hosted by  the Appalachian Project, this interactive event will give students a chance to interact in small groups and hear from student and faculty facilitators!

After dinner, the whole family stretched out on the benches and the floor of the depot and read, with the dictionary in the middle of the room so we kids could look up words we didn’t know. Sometimes I discussed the definitions with Dad, and if we didn’t agree with what the dictionary writers said, we sat down and wrote a letter to the publishers. (p. 56)

Rex and Rose Mary had great intellectual influence on their children. The Walls grew up in an environment where learning was encouraged and Rex loved sharing his expertise on astronomy, physics, geology, and more with his children. In college you might not have your very own Rex Walls to help you do homework, but the University Libraries can assist! Attend a workshop to learn how to conduct research–you’ll even begin researching a topic related to concepts in The Glass Castle.

She’d been reading books on how to cope with an alcoholic, and they said that drunks didn’t remember their rampages, so if you cleaned up after them, they’d think nothing had happened. ‘Your father needs to see the mess he’s making of our lives,’ Mom said. But when Dad got up, he’d act as if all the wreckage didn’t exist, and no one discussed it with him. The rest of us had to get used to stepping over broken furniture and shattered glass. (p. 112-113)

Many of the troubling scenes in The Glass Castle relate to Rex’s episodes of alcoholism and gambling. Come to the Wellness Center‘s workshop about the truth of addiction. You’ll learn about the science behind addiction, in addition to understanding the stigma of alcoholism and how we can fight to destigmatize it.

No child is born a delinquent. They only became that way if nobody loved them when they were kids. Unloved children grow up to be serial murderers or alcoholics. (p. 83)

Jeannette and her siblings had each other to lean on for support, and they eventually became each other’s safety net for thriving as young adults. What about children who do not have a support system at home? How do children in our community survive when they are in situations similar to Jeannette’s? Dr. Natasha Slesnick, a professor in Human Sciences Administration, will lead a discussion on the experiences of homeless and struggling youth.

At times I felt like I was failing Maureen, like I wasn’t keeping my promise that I’d protect her–the promise I’d made to her when I held her on the way home from the hospital after she’d been born. I couldn’t get her what she needed most–hot baths, a warm bed, steaming bowls of Cream of Wheat before school in the morning–but I tried to do little things. (p. 206)

Did reading Jeannette’s story motivate you to help others? Do you wish you could help the hungry by providing food and resources? Look out for service opportunities in November during the Battle Against Hunger.

Stay tuned for event dates and times!

14 Interesting Classes to Take in Your Second Year (and Beyond!)

I want to tell you about my favorite day of class as an undergraduate student. Let’s flash back to autumn 2009 (my third year). I started my morning in the basement of Hughes Hall with my History of Rock ‘n’ Roll class. The lecture was on “Pop Music of the 1980s”—my favorite music genre. As expected, we spent the class period exploring the glory of one-hit wonders, synthesizers, and the first music video icons. And much to my satisfaction, we spent significant time learning about the pop icon, Michael Jackson. Not only did we observe the magic moves of MJ on the large projector screen, but we learned about the impact he had on music, dance, stardom, and race in America. We explored the meaning of the feuding characters in his Beat It video, the popularity of the 13-minute Thriller video (FYI, it was played on average twice per hour on MTV), and the historic event of revealing of his signature dance move—the Moonwalk.

I was fascinated to learn the true story behind one of my all-time favorite musical artists in a college academic course. I actually enjoyed learning in this class. I also gained a new perspective on a topic that impacts my daily life more than I realized. For instance…I finally learned how I’d answer the common conversation-starter, “What kind of music do you like?” with a response other than “Everything.” And I can hold my own in a debate over which decade produced the best music. I also have a new appreciation for music and pop culture because of my deeper understanding of its history.

And here’s the kicker: this class was in no way related to my majors or career interests. I took it for a general education (GE) requirement. That’s the beauty of GE classes and electives. By taking classes outside your major or career interests, you’ll become a more well-rounded and informed individual. In fact, in my list of favorite classes I took as an undergraduate, only three of my top ten would be courses within my major.

I hope you take advantage of the variety of GE and elective options at Ohio State. Take a class that sounds interesting or just because it sounds fun. You might discover a new interest, passion, or major/minor! If you don’t know how to find these “fun” classes, never fear. I polled my Facebook friends and Twitter followers (including recent alumni and current students) about their favorite undergraduate class at Ohio State. Here are some of their most interesting responses…

  1. ARTSSCI 4870:  The Ohio State University: Its History and Its World — An introduction to the past and present of Ohio State, its importance, its disciplines, the interrelations of the academic and other components of the institution, and the contributions over the years of Ohio State to the wider world.
  2. MEDREN 2666: Magic and Witchcraft in the Middle Ages and Renaissance — A study of the history of witchcraft and magic from 400 to 1700 C.E. within sociological, religious and intellectual contexts.
  3. COMPSTD 2367.07: Religious Diversity in America — Exploration of the concept of religious freedom and the position of minority religious groups in American society.
  4. EEOB 2250: Dynamics of Dinosaurs — A review of current information on dinosaur biology, emphasizing scientific approaches to reconstructing dinosaurs as living, dynamic animals.
  5. ECON 4830: Economics of Sports — Analysis of economic and business aspects of sports teams and their strategic interactions in sports markets.
  6. FDSCTE 1110: Chocolate Science — Introduction to science and business of chocolate. Students develop and market a chocolate product as part of a virtual company. Students taste commercial products.
  7. ITALIAN 2055: Mafia Movies — Examines Italian and American mafia movies made from 1905 to the present day and traces the history of the Italian and Italian American Mafias. Taught in English.
  8. DANCE 2181: Social Dance — Learn and practice forms of social/ballroom dance, including fox trot, tango, waltz, etc.
  9.  GEOG 3900: Global Climate Change: Causes and Consequences — Examines the natural and human factors that force changes in our climate and environment and explores strategies for a sustainable environment in the future.
  10. KNSFHP 1139.11: Rock Climbing — Basic rock climbing techniques, rope handling, and safety systems will be covered.
  11. ECON 4597.01: Issues of the Underground Economy — Focuses on the informal sector of the underground economy: illegal drugs, arms sales and human trafficking. Applies economic reasoning. Prereq: Jr standing and above.
  12. EARTHSC 1108: Gemstones — General introduction to gemstones, including the origin of gems, identification techniques, and the history of important gems. Precious metals are also discussed.
  13. GERMAN 3252: The Holocaust in German Literature and Film — Reading, analysis, and discussion of representative works pertaining to the Holocaust from the perspective of German literature and film. Taught in English.
  14. COMPSTD 2367.04: Science and Technology in American Culture — Role of science and technology in contemporary American society; their relationship to human values; sources of concern about their impact; evaluation of selected issues.


Spring Break: A Week ON, not a Week OFF

Last week I had the opportunity to advise a Buck-I-SERV spring break trip to New York City. Along with 16 students, two trip leaders, and one other advisor, we spent the week doing community service at soup kitchens, food pantries, and daycare centers throughout NYC. One reason this trip was unique was that it was directly connected to the Buckeye Book Community (BBC). This means the location, activities, and service were directly related to the themes and plot of this year’s BBC book: The Submission by Amy Waldman.

Anyway…I can’t wait to tell you all about this trip…but since I’m quite removed from my first year at Ohio State (circa 2007), I thought I’d bring you a more relevant perspective– from a first-year student who attended the trip with me. I interviewed Sally Raudabaugh, a Chemical Engineering major from Dublin, OH, who I met on the trip. I spoke with Sally after we returned from NYC, and here is what she had to say:

Why did you apply to attend a Buck-I-SERV trip?

College has helped me realize how fortunate I’ve been, and I really want to give back. Religion is also a big part of my life, and by going to churches around campus, I’ve discovered community service as a way to help others. This trip was amazing, and I definitely want to attend more alternative break trips in the future.

Tell us three things you learned on the trip.

You can’t guess who a homeless person is just by looking at him/her. We served so many people who were hungry and homeless in NYC, and none of them looked like the stereotype of what we think a homeless person is supposed to look like.

Homelessness and hunger are a HUGE problem in NYC. People really need help escaping unemployment and getting on their feet. They can’t do it alone.

One thing that surprised me is all the help that’s available for people…all the soup kitchens and food pantries available… at least there is some help available if you look for it.

What else surprised you on the trip?

I always thought NYC was one big melting pot, but so many people there spoke other languages and expressed their own cultures.

I also went into this trip having preconceived notions about 9/11. September 11 was always something so distant that you’d read about in history books. But being there at the sight of the World Trade Center and hearing first-hand stories of survivors helped me realize how it impacted thousands of individuals and the city. I never knew the rubble from the towers was stories and stories high and was on fire for days. Or how they couldn’t simply replace the towers with new office buildings right away (it took years to do so, and they’re still working on it). The entire impact of 9/11 was not real to me before.  I used to see it on the news and think it’s terrible. But it doesn’t feel real or hit your heart until you’re there. It was very moving.

Now that you’ve nearly finished your first year of college, how have your reactions and thoughts about The Submission changed?

Just reading the book was not enough to understand it. But now that I’ve been to NYC and attended the lectures in the fall by Amy Waldman and Reza Aslan, I understand the bigger picture of what the book was about. Everything is suddenly more tangible… talking about sensitive issues, seeing how 9/11 impacted people of different cultures, hearing the author’s perspective while writing the book… this made the book an experience.  Reading the book alone is not enough to truly grasp it.

How would you sum up the trip in 5 words?

Inspiring. Exciting. Making a difference.


9/11 Memorial

6 Tips for Second-Year Housing

You’re in your second semester. Everyone is already talking about where they want to live next year. Whether you’re completely clueless or have it all figured out, here are six things to think about as you plan for your second year:

1)  WHERE will you live?

You probably know the three keys to real estate: location, location, location. And you know better than I do about where you’d like to live. Two particular things I hope you’ll think about:

Connectedness to campus. When I was a second-year student at Ohio State circa 2008, I lived in an apartment East of High Street.  Although I was a 7-minute walk from campus, I felt less connected to the campus. I was no longer surrounded by hundreds of other students like I was in my first-year residence hall. It took more effort to travel to and from campus for class. I hadn’t realized how living on campus is great for staying connected, making new friends, and maintaining a large support network in your home (residence hall). You can still do this when living off campus, it just takes more effort (i.e. get involved!).

Safety. If you are unfamiliar with an off-campus area, check out the police crime reports for that area before signing a lease.

2)  WHO will you live with?

Perhaps by now you’ve figured out how to live with a roommate (if you live on campus). Yes, it can be stressful to share such tiny space with a stranger. You’re probably itching to have your own bedroom.

Lucky for you, upperclassmen residence hall options often contain more space and amenities than a traditional first-year room. If you make the leap to live off campus, you will surely have more space. With more space comes more room for problems to arise. I speak from experience when I say that seeing your roommate’s 4-day-old dirty dishes in the sink will drive you crazy. Also, a disagreement on the location of toothpaste in the bathroom somehow becomes the fight of the century.

Just because you move to a bigger place doesn’t mean the roommate problems will go away. They will continue, but you will improve your ability to solve them. The university can also help you find roommates.

3)  HOW will you pay for housing? How MUCH will you pay?

Residence hall expenses will be paid through your tuition and fees bill once per semester. Do you have the funds (whether it’s loans, aid, or pure money in da bank) to cover this twice a year?

With off-campus living, you will have several bills to pay on a monthly basis: rent, electric and/or gas, cable/Internet, sometimes water and trash. You will likely need a checking account and reliable source of funds (i.e. money in da bank) to pay these expenses every month.

Sure, living on campus is a bit pricey.  But consider the many benefits (safety, proximity to classes, activities, sense of community, meal blocks) and decide if those benefits are worth the cost.

When living off campus, your utility bills will change with the seasons. Do your research about these off-campus living expenses.

The words spoken by many Ohio State students after the Polar Vortex of January 2014.

4)  WHEN will you live there?

Pay attention to the move-in date (on-campus) or lease start date (off-campus). Consider any factors (e.g. summer job, fall commitments) that might affect your ability to move-in at the start date.

While residence halls close in the summer, most off-campus leases include the summer months. Check your lease for policies regarding moving out and subleasing (if necessary).

5)  RESPONSIBILITY…groannnnn

Living off campus means you must assume new responsibilities: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and understanding the legal obligations of signing a lease.

Learning to cook for yourself is a skill that’s perfected with time and experience. Heck, I’m 25 and I still set off the fire alarm in my apartment when I use the oven sometimes (#truestory). But living off campus or in a residence hall such as Neilwood Gables) will require you to use a kitchen.

And seriously, that part about paying bills and legal stuff: signing a lease with your name means you are the adult responsible for the place you are living.

6)  Take ACTION!

University Housing contract renewals are available beginning Saturday, January 25th. Check your university email for more info.

Consider joining the STEP program.  Not sure what STEP is?  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post dedicated to the STEP experience.

If you decide you’re living off campus, use as a starting point for finding a place. If you haven’t already started looking, do so ASAP – off-campus places in the University District will fill up fast.

If you’ve already signed a lease, get your plans in order.

Stay warm this weekend!