Being a Resilient Student

Whether it’s your first year or your fifth year, you’re most likely going to experience some type of obstacle during your time at Ohio State that affects you academically, financially, emotionally, physically, or all of the above. Being able to overcome these types of challenges is a crucial part of being a student and individual. Resiliency and learning to advocate for myself was the theme of my first year, and the experiences, successes, and challenges I endured allowed me to grow and learn so much about myself.

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Being a resilient student could mean something different to every person. To me, being a resilient student means that in the face of obstacle – a failing grade, a homework assignment you forgot, or something entirely unrelated to academics – you’re able to advocate for yourself, overcome, and continue. Resiliency is being able to ask for help, use your resources, and having an open mindset to overcome your challenges.

When approached with a new challenge in college, having a “growth mindset” guided me. It was incredibly easy to view failures and average grades with a fixed mindset, being stuck in as negative of a space as possible; I would blame myself for not being productive and successful and stay stuck in a cloud of worry, which only distracted me from what I needed to do, which in return worried me more, and the cycle would continue. Teaching myself to have a growth mindset (which took a lot of practice) that could let me view challenges as learning and growth opportunities and in a slightly more positive light would at the very least allow me to shift my perspective and not spiral into worry. Image result for growth mindset

If faced with an unexpected obstacle during your first year, remember that you are capable of advocating for yourself. There’s most likely someone on campus who can help you with whatever you are going through, or who can direct you to someone else who can help. So many of my problems during my first year could have been solved or reduced by asking for help. Being able to ask for help during these periods of struggles is one of the largest components of resiliency and a form of self-advocacy; use what you have available to help you.

It’s important to remember why you’re here at Ohio State and how capable and worthy you are of success. Use that as motivation to continue through those obstacles while studying here, and the skills you learn along the way will allow you to be a more open-minded, aware, and resilient person.

You’re Not Alone in Feeling Alone

“Get involved! Leave your door open the first few weeks! Find your lifelong friends!”

Sound familiar? Coming into college, I figured it would be easy to make friends. On a campus with over 50,000 people, it couldn’t be too difficult to find a handful of close friends, right? I certainly didn’t think so, but it ended up being harder than I expected. If you had idealistic expectations like me, you probably fell into some of the traps I did. For example:

You assume your roommates are going to become your close friends. When you’re trapped in a confined space with other people, you think you’ll end up spending so much time together and inevitably become BFFs. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case. If you end up with roommate(s) who you really click with, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s pretty normal. With so many people at one school, it’s unrealistic to expect that the people you happen to live with will become your closest friends.

You expect the first people you meet in a student organization to become your close friends. You go to the involvement fair, find the perfect club, and muster up the courage to attend the first meeting. You talk to a few people and consistently continue to go to the meetings. A few months in, though, you may realize you don’t really see these people much outside of the club. While it’s nice to think that you’ll easily become friends with people who share common interests, it’s not necessarily going to happen so easily.

You expect the people in your first semester classes to become your close friends. In the first few weeks of the semester, everyone’s trying to make friends. People are going out of their way to introduce themselves, exchange phone numbers, and work on group projects together. For the duration of the semester, you may consistently see the same people because you share a class with them. This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically become friends, and once the class is over, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay friends. 

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Hopefully, you’re beginning to see a common pattern here: you expect the first group of people you meet on campus to become your close friends. These are assumptions that I made my first year, and when the first semester had ended, I felt alone. I thought I had somehow failed at college by not finding a close group of friends within my first semester. When I went home for winter break, I felt isolated, and coming back to campus didn’t sound as appealing without a close group of friends to return to. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do, but here are some things I eventually learned:

Building worthwhile relationships takes time. After knowing the same people my entire life, I had forgotten what it felt like to form new relationships with strangers, and I was in too much of a hurry to make connections. Eventually, some of the people I occasionally talked to my first semester grew to be some of my now closest friends. We ended up spending more time together and things eventually clicked. Whether you connect with someone instantly doesn’t determine whether you’ll end up being good friends, so give yourself time to get to know people.

It’s okay to let people and expectations go. In the eagerness that comes with trying to find a new group of friends, it can be tempting to cling onto the first group of people you meet on campus. You may try really hard to keep in touch with people from your first semester classes or the first few people you met at student org meetings. You may even keep trying to force a connection with your roommates that just doesn’t pan out. At some point, you have to give up. You’re not meant to be friends with everyone you meet, and you’re not obligated to stay in touch with people just because they were the first people you met when you came to campus. Chances are, you’ll end up meeting some of your closest friends later on in your college experience.

Sometimes, there’s value in being alone. During the month of winter break, I had a lot of time to reflect on my first semester, and I came to an interesting realization. One of the most exciting (and sometimes terrifying) aspects of coming to college is the newfound independence. Part of me associated independence with being alone, and that idea made me uncomfortable. In high school, I was used to being surrounded by people all day, including club meetings after school. During my first semester, when I didn’t spend as much time with other people, I learned to become more comfortable spending time with myself. Even though I eventually found my social circle, I learned the value of spending time alone and enjoying my own company. 

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Here’s my ultimate piece of advice: when it comes to finding your social circle on campus, just give it time. It’s perfectly normal and okay to feel alone sometimes, even at a school where you’re constantly surrounded by people. Eventually, as you continue to meet more people, you’ll end up finding those lifelong friends you’re searching for- and it will be well worth the wait. 

For Some, This One Thing May Be the Biggest Surprise of Ohio State

WHAT IS IT?

For me, this aspect of Ohio State was evident even before classes began my first year. During my summer orientation, I quickly noticed I was one of the few students there with a minority identity. I remember thinking multiple things at the time, most of them not so positive. I was surprised, nervous, and even a little disappointed–can you relate to these feelings?

THE REALITY OF IT

Ohio State’s enormous student body consists of so many different people; however, the vast number of people doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything about the numbers of those who identify as a minority. Despite the one lump sum of the student body, the reality of Ohio State is that when the student population is scaled down to an underrepresented population, there’s a noticeably smaller number of people. I mean, it’s literally in the name: underrepresented. They lack in numbers. I could bore you with statistics right now, which I won’t, but believe me when I say that there is plenty of data (counts, percentages, surveys, etc.) that show that it may be tougher to find a sense of community on campus if you’re a minority. However, as a second-year student, I went through it myself not too long ago, and I’m here to help elaborate on what you can do.

FINDING YOUR COMMUNITY ON CAMPUS

“Where do I go?”

That is essentially the big question. I know, I asked myself that same question. You may be as concerned as I was about trying to find a group of people that look like you and can relate to culture, experiences, backgrounds, language, heck, even your name! It’s important, I understand. You may or may not have had that community back home or in high school, but Ohio State DOES have these communities; you just have to be willing to look around! There are plenty of opportunities and resources to take advantage of here. Ohio State WANTS you to have that sense of community.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  1. Join a club/organization that revolves around your identity – This one is pretty straightforward. With 1,300+ registered student organizations, there are so many opportunities to meet those who share your identity. You can check out the full directory of registered student organizations in the Discover app on your iPad or online. Save some time and use those filters!
  2. Take advantage of events held by the university – Ohio State, like I said, wants you to be included in your respective community. Therefore, multiple events are offered throughout the entire school year for every identity! Save the dates and get some more info about these events through the Multicultural Center webpage.
  3. Access your resources – A university dedicated to helping you find community means numerous resources are available to you as a student; these resources are great ways to get connected with your community through involvements, programs and just general support! Check out all the ways Ohio State supports diversity initiatives and resources on campus.

BEING ISOLATED

“No one here looks like me.”

Perhaps you’ve thought this exact thing at an event for your major, through involvement with something else, or just sitting in class. I know how it is, I’ve experienced it myself. It’s a bit daunting to just look around and notice that. Even being a Peer Leader, where there are 28 of us, it’s the same story. I’ve had many talks about being and feeling isolated, and although I’m probably not much older than you, I do have some words of wisdom and encouragement that I want to share.

Be confident in yourself and your identity. If you stand out, you might as well stand out to the best of your ability. Use that as leverage to break stereotypes (which exist, unfortunately), be a role model, and represent your community in the best way possible.

If this post really spoke to you, go check out those links! Thank you for reading!

That Wasn’t What I Expected.

As my time as Peer Leader comes to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what my journey has been like. I was hired as a Peer Leader in April of 2016 and I have been a Peer Leader for the new first year students of 2016 and 2017. When I applied for this job, I was looking for a place where I could share my experiences with students who were experiencing first year transitions. I found exactly that: the platform to support new first year students who were in need of help during their first year at Ohio State. What I hadn’t expected were the ways that I have grown and the lessons that I have learned along the way. I thought I was taking a job where I punched the clock in and out of work and that my experience would be boxed into that time. My role as a Peer Leader has significantly influenced me over the last two years.

There are two things that I have learned from this job that I want to share: you can find community where you aren’t looking for it and everyone’s story is valuable.

I never pictured myself being friends with my coworkers — I had already found community and I didn’t feel a need for more friends. Throughout my first year as a Peer Leader, I did not invest in time outside of work with my fellow Peer Leaders. At the end that year I felt like I had missed an opportunity to know my coworkers. I was excited to correct my attitude for my second year as a Peer Leader. With the mindset that I should invest time in developing relationships with my coworkers, I began to find community in the same place that I wasn’t looking for it one year ago. Being a Peer Leader soon became more of a community to me than a job. I was more excited to be at work because I knew my coworkers on a personal level and I was more inclined to ask them for help and share ideas.

Being a Peer Leader taught me that I didn’t know how to listen to other people. That sounds a bit weird, but trust me, I was bad at listening to others. Have you ever talked to someone who always takes what you share with them (bad news, good news, etc.) and makes it about themselves? That was me, and I didn’t even know it. Some of the training for Peer Leaders included active and reflective listening. I have grown better at listening and I have started to intentionally listen to my friends, coworkers, and classmates. Learning how to listen has helped me discover that every individual has a story. Being able to hear others’ stories has shown me how people view the world and has ultimately helped me to love other people well. I have found it is easier to enjoy being around people when you have spent time listening to them and trying to understand their story. I have gotten to see the depth and individuality within people by taking time to listen to them.

For me being a Peer Leader turned out to be a great learning experience when I had previously viewed it as a way to guide and teach other people. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much from being a Peer Leader. I encourage you to step into places where you can learn from others. It is valuable to be around people who challenge your ideas so you can reflect on them. A learning experience like this doesn’t have to be a job; maybe it is through a student org you join, a place you volunteer, or a class you take. We tend to challenge ourselves academically, let’s challenge ourselves in a new way by going places and having experiences that aren’t where we are most comfortable – we might learn some impactful lessons.

A New Perspective

For those of you who do not know, The Ohio State University has a mission, vision, set of values and core goals. At Ohio State, we value excellence, diversity in people and of ideas, inclusion, access and affordability, innovation, collaboration and multidisciplinary endeavor, and integrity. Undoubtedly, these values are important. However, I never had a first-hand experience to allow me to see why these values were important to me personally. I am happy to now say after going on my first Buck-I-SERV trip, I feel more connected than ever to these university values.

This past spring break, I went to Appalachia Ohio in a place called Vinton County with five fellow Buckeyes to serve. Although we were there to teach about college access, I think I was the one who ended up learning the most. Growing up in a suburb of Columbus, I did not know what to expect going to one of the most rural parts of Columbus. However, I know that I never expected to be enlightened so much by the people that I met and by the beauty of Appalachia Ohio. In my week in Vinton county, we worked with elementary, middle, and high school kids. Through various activities, we were there to promote the idea of pursuing something after high school, whether it be a 4-year college or a technical school.

In my time there, I saw many hardships. I talked to the teachers who told me about the lack of support in many of the households the kids were raised in. I heard some disappointing and tragic stories. It is easy to focus on the bad, but I want to focus on the good, and in my time in Vinton County, I saw so much good. I saw the investment of individuals at the Ohio State Extension Office working to make sure children could participate in engaging programs after school. I met students who had such a strong commitment and pride associated with their family, which was admirable to see. I met a high school English teacher, who is also a retired lawyer. She realized the legal system could not help the community, so she became a teacher. It was inspirational to see how she would could motivate any and all students. She valued each student’s uniqueness and believed that they could be great, even when they did not believe this themselves.

Coming from a fairly privileged background, it is easy for me to think that places like the inner-city and rural Ohio are in need of “fixing” and do not have much to offer. Yet, the reality is, there is a lot that I have learned and can learn by exposing myself to such communities. I have learned to better value the diversity of experience. I have learned the importance of having a strengths-based perspective, which is focusing on others’ abilities, talents, and resources, rather than others’ problems and deficits. I have learned and seen the impact of genuine dedication and investment towards a community. I am thankful to Ohio State and Buck-I-SERV for allowing me the opportunity to widen my perspective and feel better connected to the values that we hold dear as Buckeyes.

 

Are you really having conversations right?

We live in a world of controversy.  It’s all around us and it is inevitable. Too many times, people have “conversations” that are entirely unproductive. After years of social media and avoiding important topics, genuine dialogue can be a rare find in our world. Odds are, your job after graduation will require you to have difficult dialogue with other people. In order to get the most out of difficult conversations, you have to think critically about your approach to such interactions. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

 

  1. Were you on your phone?

That’s right. If you want to have a meaningful conversation with someone, it will require putting down your smartphone. Social media can wait, and if you’re on your phone, you’re automatically not fully engaged in the conversation.

  1. Did you ask questions?

Were you actively trying to understand the other person’s point of view? Too many times, we have interactions in which we’re too focused on what we’re going to say next, and we miss important parts of what the other person is saying.

  1. Did you question yourself at all?

At any point in the conversation did you ask yourself: Could I be wrong about this? Is there a chance that the person I’m engaging with might have more relevant experience than me? I’m not saying you have to change your opinion, but if no one is ever willing to question their own viewpoints, a conversation will never be productive.

  1. Did you learn something?

“Everyone you ever meet knows something that you don’t.” ~Bill Nye

If you leave a conversation thinking that the other person has absolutely no knowledge or perspective to offer, you’re probably not listening. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but you should be able to leave a conversation having gained some piece of perspective.

 

Overall, it’s always important to ask yourself if you’re really listening. Stephen Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.” He further challenges people to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This is an incredibly difficult skill to master. Challenge yourself to do so. It will make your interactions and relationships so much more valuable, and you will become a better person for it.

Imposter Syndrome: Am I a Fraud?

As a college student at a prestigious university, it is common for people to automatically think of you as a naturally smart, brilliant student. You hear things like, “Well you got into The Ohio State University, so you must be smart!” These phrases are especially common among students in majors that are infamously difficult, like engineering, any type of science, and so many more. When I tell people that I’m a math major, they often respond with, “Wow, you must be so smart!” or “I could never do that!” People assume that I am some sort of genius. What they don’t know is that I don’t feel like a genius at all. Hell, I don’t even feel smart. And neither do a lot of the people who receive these types of comments. People assume that if you are in hard major, it’s easy for you and you get As in all of your classes and don’t struggle at all. Truth is, I got a C- in my first math course that I took at OSU. Often times, this leaves me feeling like a fraud. Everyone thinks that I’m so smart, but I don’t feel smart. Am I lying to them? Letting them believe something that isn’t true? Do I even deserve to be here? If you relate to any of these feelings of inadequacy, you may be experiencing something called Imposter Syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is characterized by an inability to internalize accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” It is extremely common among college students, and is often not talked about. But constantly second guessing all of your accomplishments and questioning your worthiness can have a severe impact on your mental health, and can lead to anxiety and/or depression. This is why imposter syndrome is important to be addressed, and it is important to realize that you are most definitely not the only one feeling this way. Imposter syndrome is something that can be overcome, and below I will list some tips and techniques I found from an article (https://startupbros.com/21-ways-overcome-impostor-syndrome/) to overcome imposter syndrome and embrace everything that you deserve.

  1. Accept that you’ve had some role in your successes. You feel like a fraud because you believe that everything you did to get you where you are today was just pure luck, or chance. But it’s important to realize that you did do something to get you where you are. You wrote all the application essays, you passed all the necessary classes (even if barely), and you said yes to things when you could have said no. You got to where you are today based on your own decisions, not just chance. And that’s pretty freakin awesome.
  2. Remember: being wrong doesn’t make you a fake. The best basketball players miss most of the shots they take. Making mistakes and messing up sometimes doesn’t mean that all of your achievements have been fraudulent, or that you don’t deserve to be where you are. It just means that you’re human. Nobody is perfect, and it’s important that you don’t expect yourself to be either.
  3. Take action. Being actively aware of the negative thoughts that you are having and the impact that they are having on you can go a long way in not letting them have such a strong impact. Facing those thoughts and saying, “you know what, screw you, I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am today,” can be a powerful tool in overcoming imposter syndrome. Recognizing those self-doubting thoughts and stopping them in their tracks is a great way to take your confidence back.
  4. Find one person you can say, “I feel like a fraud” to. This can actually be really helpful, especially when the thoughts that are leading you to believe you are a fraud tend to be a bit irrational. Expressing this thought to another person and receiving their input, probably on how you are absolutely not a fraud, can be a huge help.
  5. Sometimes faking things actually does work. Ever heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Everyone does it! No one knows everything about everything, so sometimes you just gotta fake it till you know enough. This does not at all make you a fraud. It makes you normal. It makes you eager to learn more and gives you a place to sit while you get there.

These tips may not be a cure-all for imposter syndrome, but I think they can be useful in leading to healthier thinking. Nobody knows what they are doing, and everyone doubts themselves sometimes. But it’s important to take credit for the accomplishments that you do make, and to learn to believe in yourself through times of strife. You will be ok. You are not a fraud, and you deserve to be here.

 

Counseling and Consultation Services: https://ccs.osu.edu/
Dennis Learning Center: http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/
Career Counseling and Support Services: http://ccss.osu.edu/

 

 

Identity struggles (A little inspiration from watching Super Bowl 52)

At the time I started writing this blog post, I was also getting ready to watch Super Bowl 52 (only the third Super Bowl I have ever watched) and that brings back memories for me. Watching the Super Bowl prompted me to think about how I spent the past 2 and a half years – what I’ve accomplished and whether I am proud of who I am after all this.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Some good, some bad, and some just straight up stupid. I decided to come to Ohio State (which turned out to be the best decision I have ever made). I decided to tell people that I’m from Cincinnati instead of Taiwan (which now I really regret). I decided to offer to buy this person behind me ice cream at Jeni’s. And I’ve decided to spend 10 hours watching 3 previous Ohio State football games on YouTube during finals week. I think you know which category those decisions go into.

To me, football isn’t just some sport that people watch. To me, football is what connected me with American culture. Before I came to Ohio State, all of my knowledge about football came from the movie, The Blind Side, and I had no idea that Ohio State even had a football team. During the first game of the 2015 season against Virginia Tech, some upperclassmen in my learning community hosted a watch party in their room. I went because I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about the next day if I didn’t go (I mean, I still had nothing to talk about even after I went because I couldn’t understand anything). My friend Alex Steitz was sitting next to me during that game and I told him that I knew nothing about football. He started explaining every single thing to me despite me understanding only about 2% of what he said. Little did he know, that was one of the first times I really felt welcomed here. We started to watch every OSU away game together and he would teach me more and more about football. I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been thinking about my identities and why I do certain things. It makes me think that the reason I love football so much is partly that it is where I found a friendship early on and partly that I think that it makes me more “American.”

Through my two and a half years at Ohio State, a lot has changed in my life and that caused me to constantly think about how my identity is changing. Yet, I was never able to really step back and say “Yeah, that is an accurate representation of me!” Even now I still don’t know what defines me and what I really identify with. In all the thinking I did, one thing really stood out to me: I’ve always been reluctant to tell people that I am an international student. Being an international student can have come negative connotations and it can mean certain restrictions for me legally and culturally. Every time when I have a conversation with someone and then they ask me where I am from, I have two choices: I can either be honest and say that I am from Taiwan, or I can “lie” and say I’m from Cincinnati because I’ve stayed with my Cousin in Cincinnati for a summer.

I’m proud of being a Taiwanese individual but all the “standard” follow-ups really exhaust me. The common response is usually “Wow, you speak English really well! I would’ve never guessed you’re not from the states.” And sometimes when the individual is interested in world politics, I would get asked “What do you think of the political struggle between China and Taiwan?” For the former, I understand that they are trying to give a genuine compliment but hearing it over and over again really frustrates me and made me not want to proactively say that I’m from Taiwan. For the latter, I’m a very non-confrontational and yet patriotic person, I will state my view and then try to steer the conversion away from that topic. But if I say that I’m from Cincinnati, the response I get is “Oh! This Ohio weather, right?” In this case, telling the alternative actually made my conversation a lot easier and a lot more “American”.

Most students at Ohio State don’t know that International students have a very different orientation than they did. Most students don’t know that international students are usually the last ones that schedule for classes for their first semester. Most students don’t know that international students are treated very differently than domestic students because of all the regulations and “initiatives.” I’d love to speak up for international students but there’s really not many ways of doing so. I’d love to help international students integrate with domestic students but there are not a whole lot of resources to make this possible. I’d love to see more international students represented in Ohio State community but I’ve only heard from domestic students that international students are part of the population that makes Ohio State more diverse. These constant downsides have made me not want to proactively identify myself as an international student. But now, I want to use this identity as an advantage.

Most of the time when we hear someone’s motivational story, when we hear how someone overcame their struggle, we think “Wow, that really inspires me” or “Wow, if they can overcome that, I think I can overcome my challenges, too!” It’s just like thinking “If the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with a backup QB, I can conquer this upcoming thing.” It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by a story, but we have to recognize that these stories are only being told because the struggle was overcome. How about those who are still struggling? How about those who are still having a tug-of-war with their destiny? I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve told a lot of story with an ending. But now, I want to start telling a story without an ending. I still struggle with acknowledging my identities, but I’m working on being proud of being an international student. I don’t want my identity to define me, but I don’t want to throw them in trash and ship it to landfill. Because even though I don’t think these things define me, they are a part of me. And it’s not about how these things make me who I am, it’s about how I want to use these things to empower me. I don’t know where this will take me or what this will bring me. But I know…

 

I am Willy.

Why Should I Care?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Although this poem was written over a century ago, the message translates through time.  Niemoller wrote this about the complicity of Germans and their silence towards the Nazi persecution of millions of people.  Take a moment to reflect on how the meaning of this poem might change if you replaced ‘socialist’, ‘trade unionist’ or ‘Jew’ with any marginalized identity in America.

Complicity can be just as bad as active action.  Recall those anti-bullying campaigns we all went through in elementary school.  There is the bully-the one taking action, the victim-the one negatively affected, and the bystander-the one who sees injustice, but stays silent.  We all know the consequences of the bystander affect: everyone thinks that someone else will do or say something, and in the end, nothing is done at all.  The bystander is complicit in the injustice by staying silent.  That affect goes much further than a high school bully, however.

Consider the ways in which not only people, but institutions, policies, and media bully and neglect people of marginalized identities. Just focusing on one identity isn’t enough though. All identities intersect. There’s race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, language, citizenship, religion, and more. If you don’t recognize the affects of any of these, you may be complicit in your privilege.

Awareness of your own privileges are the first step in taking action.  For me, this means using my whiteness to advocate for people of color, using my economic status to advocate for low income populations, and my citizenship status to advocate for immigrants and refugees.  I recommend choosing to give up an easy, complicit life style for one of advocacy and speaking up for those who can’t.

Don’t know where to start? Start with a google search ‘inequality in America’, ‘problems facing diverse populations’, and ‘the affects of privilege’ are some good starting points.  Explore the Multicultural Center in the Ohio Union or Hale Hall on south campus.  Go to a Pride meeting and just listen. In a few days, Black History Month will begin and there are more than enough options for presentations, Ted Talks, and events focused on Black history and pride. Educate yo’self.

Eventually, if you don’t start to care and speak up, there will be no one left to speak for you.

 

The Powers of Reflection

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to your second semester here at Ohio State. And now that syllabus week is over, the work begins.

I had a rough first semester at OSU. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was having a hard time, and I didn’t do well in classes. I ended up skipping classes to watch Netflix and sleep in and rarely left my residence hall. I ate a ton, did no homework and didn’t study and I ended up coming home for winter break 20 pounds heavier with a terrible GPA. Luckily, I had wonderful parents who, although disappointed, did their best to help me move forward instead of dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time that winter break trying to figure out what went wrong and how to help me get back on track; and through that experience I learned how amazingly powerful reflection could be. I went into my second semester with a new outlook and ended it with a 3.5 semester GPA.

You have all more or less successfully completed a full semester at OSU and believe it or not you are now a veteran! You now have a pretty good idea of the in’s and out’s of college so why not put some of that knowledge to use? You will do so much better this semester if you take the time and space to reflect on what went right and what went wrong.

I have a little reflection activity (it takes about 30 minutes) that I want to share with you. I’ve started, weekly, going out by myself to eat or putting on some background music and lighting a candle in my room and just thinking. Below I’ve written out a way that you can engage in a similar activity that helps with mindfulness and goal-setting.

Reflection Activity:

Think back to the first days on the Ohio State campus: moving into the dorm rooms, meeting new faces, your parents moving your stuff into your dorm room. Remember how your room looked when you first stepped in. And how it looked when you were done with it. Remember saying goodbye to your parents, and spending the night with your new friends and roommates.

Fast forward through Welcome Week: all of the activities, the whirlwind of people, the cheers, the crowds, getting used to campus.

Now it’s the first days of classes: remember rushing to find your first class, pulling out the Maps app on your phone to find Arps Hall. Remember returning to your room at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied because at least you now know where your classes are.

Keep going fast-forwarding through your semester, letting your mind snag on the important parts, dwell on them a little before moving on. Try writing some of those moments down to remember them. Remember the good things and the bad things. Continue until you finally get to winter break. Imagine all of the things that went right last semester. What did you do well? When was your first success? How can you keep that up this semester? Write this stuff down.

What went wrong? What did you improve? What could you have done better in? What do you need to change? What can you do to improve? Write. It. Down.

Now look and think about everything you just wrote and thought about. What goals do you have for this semester that could hit on those points you just wrote down? Write those down and put them on your phone or hang them in your room.

Those are your goals for this semester.